Today I thought I’d take a break from reviews (especially considering I’m behind on reading) and focus on a list near and dear to my heart. For the most part, I’m not really a fan of mysteries; however, this is one trope that I have found that I absolutely adored in the mystery genre: lady investigators. I love a good historical setting and the idea of a woman living beyond her prescribed social role very much appeals to me. Not all of women on this list are aristocratic, but they all make for an interesting investigator.
1. The Anatomists Wife by Anna Lee Huber: This is by far my favourite historical mystery series right now. Lady Darby is an artist, but this doesn’t stop her from taking part in the occasional investigation or interacting with the inquiry agent, Sebastian Gage. Kiera Darby doesn’t have the best social status, due to her late husband, but I love that she carries on despite how uncomfortable she is.
2. Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn: Like Lady Darby, Lady Julia is another widow that gets herself involved in the occasional intrigue. Lucky for Julia, she always has Nicholas Brisbane to back her up.
3. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig: If you’re looking for a fun mystery series, Willig’s books are great and they all feature intrepid women. What’s interesting with this series is the dual story of the academic investigator, Eloise. Like the women and men she’s researching, Eloise often blunders into a mess, but always manages to find her way out of it.
4. Soulless by Gail Carriger: This one is more of a steampunk/paranormal mystery, but Lady Alexia is one unique heroine that puts herself in the middle of an investigation with complete disregard to Lord Maccon’s (werewolf investigator) opposition. This one is funny and light.
5. The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook: More steampunk, but I think Mina is more of a traditional detective than the other ladies that I’ve put on this list. It’s a great start to a series, although heavier on the romance aspect than the other books that I’ve listed.
6. The Agency by Y.S. Lee: This is my one YA title on this list and it’s amazing. A heroine from the lower classes who’s a little bit of a secret agent, and is half-Chinese: Mary Quinn is one awesome investigator. This series is well worth pursuing. There’s even a Queen Victoria cameo later in the series!
7. A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate by Susanna Calkins: Here we have another investigator from the lower orders of society. Lucy Campion is a young maid who finds herself unwittingly involved in a mystery when her friend is found dead. Complicating matters is her increasing attraction to her employer’s son. This one is a quieter read, but filled with great historical detail.
8. The Gilded Shroud by Elizabeth Bailey: To me this is more of a cozy mystery. Ottilia Draycott is the new ladies companion to Dowager Lady Polbrook and gets more than she bargained for soon after starting her new job. Murder in the house, and it’s up to Ottilia to investigate. It was an interesting concept even if Ottilia seemed to acquire mad skills out of thin air.
9. Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters: How could Amelia Peabody not make this list? Do I even need to say more? It’s an oldie but a goodie.
10. India Black by Carol K. Carr: Clearly I like unusual investigators since India Black is actually a madam at a brothel. After a government official dies at her brother, India is pulled into the spy game. Love this historical period.
That’s my list. What would you add?