Female sleuths are currently enjoying an upsurge in popularity. Nancy Drew, we owe it all to you.
Leslie Glass – April Woo is a young Chinese-American police detective in NYC. The series has excellent, complex characterizations, and taut plotting. The first book in the series is Burning Time. She’s a favorite writer of mine, mostly because she wishes there were more Arthur Upfield mysteries… I’ve never found anyone else that loved the “Boney” books.
Nevada Barr –Anna Pigeon is a law enforcement officer for the National Park Service. The books take place in different National Parks as Anna moves around the country. Excellent descriptions of the Parks and their histories. Track of the Cat was the first, but I kind-of think that Liberty Falling is my favorite, or is it Flashback?
Linda Barnes – Carlotta Carlyle is a gritty, 6’1” tall redhead who is an ex-cop cab driver in Boston. Start with the award winning A Trouble of Fools.
J.D. Robb – Lt. Eve Dallas is a tough NYC policewoman in the year 2058. The mysteries are well executed and the characters 24K gold. Let the timid beware, however; besides descriptive crime scenes there is also a very steamy romance between Dallas and the handsome Roarke, who becomes her husband in future books.
Lisa Scottoline – Rosato & Associates all-female law firm is the star in Scottoline’s books. The books usually feature one of the several lawyers in the firm, but they all manage to play a part in each drama.
Dana Stabenow – Aleut Kate Shugak was an investigator for the Anchorage D.A.’s office. She has returned to Alaska’s far north after dealing with a horrible case. She lives on a 160-acre homestead with her half-wolf dog, Mutt, and makes her living as a private investigator. The first novel in the series won an Edgar Award.
Susan Dunlap – Jill Smith is a policewoman in Berkley, California. Berkley and its culture often upstage Smith.
Jo Dereske – Miss Helma Zukas is a librarian in Bellehaven, Washington. She is every inch your image of a librarian. (Her swear words are “Oh, Faulkner!) This “cozy” series is fresh, delightful, and fun with good plots.
Erle Stanley Gardner as A.A. Fair – Bertha Cool opened her detective agency, B. Cool Confidential Investigations, in 1936 and immediately hired Donald Lam, who later becomes her partner. She is probably the first “hard-boiled” female detective. Some feel this series is better than the Perry Mason series.
The Legendary Women Detectives compiled by Jean Marie Stine – This collection brings back six of the greatest fictional women sleuths of the era of gaslights and horseless carriages and features Baroness Orczy‘s Lady Molly of Scotland Yard, Anna Katharine Green’s Violet Strange, Arthur B. Reeve‘s Constance Dunlap, C. L. Pirkis‘ Loveday Brooke, Valentine‘s Daphne Wrayne, and Edgar Jepson and Robert Eustace’s Ruth Kelstern. These ladies were once nearly as famous as the sleuth of Baker Street himself. Their fame waned in the long decades of the 1930s through the ’80s, when female sleuths took a backseat to the hard-boiled male detectives.