The mystery genre is a favourite of mine. There’s something about the mystery formula that just works for me. The bad guy is always caught and the hero or heroine always get their man. The particular feature that is my catnip is the concept of the lady detective. Whether it’s a historical or contemporary setting, I always enjoy a story that features a woman detective. She doesn’t have to be a super sleuth but she does have to solve crimes. Happily there are many books out there that feature this type of character. My list for today is my current favourite lady detectives that I’ve read so far.
I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch to tribute the Lady Darby series with my love for the lady detective in the mystery genre. I read the first book, The Anatomist’s Wife a few years ago and continue to search for characters that strike me on such a visceral level. Who doesn’t love a novel that questions the place of women in society?
Lady Kiera Darby is a young widow that was betrayed by her husband who used her artistic gifts in his anatomical work. Considering Kiera is living in 1830, Kiera’s artistic talents in capturing a dead person’s anatomy labels her as unnatural. However, what Kiera’s history does provide her with is a keen insight into criminal investigation. Kiera is a bit of an amateur sleuth at the beginning of this series, but she comes into her own.
An added bonus to the series is the interpersonal issues that crop up, namely Kiera’s beau, inquiry agent Sebastian Gage. What can I say, I’m a romance reader at heart and the fact that there is a great romance at the heart of this series only adds to its favour for me.
Kate Burkholder is a modern-day female police chief in the small town of Painters Mill, Ohio. Doesn’t sound like anything special, but Kate happens to be an ex-Amish girl now serving in her home town. The murders a bit graphic, but the exploration into the Amish community is fascinating.
Like the Lady Darby series, I got hooked on Kate Burkholder because of her as a character. Kate has a traumatic past and this informs a lot of what she does in her day-to-day investigations. Kate’s a tough character, but it’s clear that she’s got her vulnerable side, which is evident in both her investigations into the Amish community as well as in her turbulent relationship with State Agent John Tomasetti (who also has a tortured past). While the mystery always interests me, the relationship between these two damaged people is what keeps me coming back.
I got so caught up in the series I only bothered to review the first book – I was too busy catching up on the other 6 that I hadn’t read.
On the lighter spectrum of the mystery genre I have found amateur sleuth Amory Ames. Amory is a charming, bored wife that falls into a murder investigation with her ex-fiance, only to have her erstwhile husband show up asking what the heck she’s up to.
Amory is not like any of the other ladies on my list. She’s really an amateur at the whole sleuthing business. She’s also filthy rich with time to kill. It shouldn’t work, but it totally does. The hints of independence that Amory searches for completely make up for the upper class privilege that could have ruined a charming series. I’m also convinced that her husband, Milo, is a spy and I will NOT stop reading this series until I find vindication.
Winter at the Door introduced Lizzie Snow, a Boston homicide detective that relocates to remote Bearkill, Maine on tip that her missing niece might have been spotted nearby. Instead of chasing down leads, Lizzie is investigating the suspicious death of several former cops and fending off the advances of former flame, Dylan Hudson.
I love Lizzie’s attitude and determination to do her job in a remote town that isn’t exactly kind to outsiders. The added bonus of personal demons (a dead sister and missing niece) and a persistent ex will have me back for the second book, The Girls She Left Behind.
See my review of book 1 to learn more.
Lieutenant Danielle “Dan” Lewis is my most recent addition to this list and to date (I only reviewed it earlier this week); the series only has one book to it’s name, but this introduction to Dan is enough to make me feel the need to include her on this list. Dan is a unique lady detective in that she is in a unique career. Dan is an investigator for the British military and what stands out is her determination in the face of an old boys club in the British Navy. The debut title, Tenacity ramps up the suspense by hammering home the complete vulnerability of Dan – I was impressed.
What I’d like more from in this series is a further exploration of Dan as a character. At this point we’ve only skimmed the surface but there is a lot to explores especially in the world of the military that is so foreign to me.