Whether in film, TV, or books, female detectives have always intrigued me. I cut my teeth on Nancy Drew, graduated to V.I. Warshawski, Kinsey Malone, Miss Marple, and Eve Dallas. Each fictional detective has qualities that engage the reader and make her/him come back for more. By far my favorite is Stephanie Plum. She is inept, at times, and often falls into solving a mystery. The humor makes me keep reading the books.
Nora Charles, played in film by Myrna Loy, was savvy, witty, and oh-so-smart. Laura Holt (Stephanie Zimbalist) led Remington Steele on a merry chase, solved crimes, and let him take the credit for her work. Too bad equal opportunity hadn’t hit detective shows back in the 80s. Still, she did look great in that fedora. Maddie Hayes (Cybill Shepherd) teamed up with a young Bruce Willis on Moonlighting. Great dialogue made that show a hit. Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) gave mystery writers hope that they, too, might solve real crimes.
But what about real life? When Allan Pinkerton hired Kate Warne in 1856, she became America’s first female detective. Smart guy, that Allan Pinkerton. I have to admit when I watched “The Pinkertons” on television, I was surprised at the female investigator. To find out she was a real person makes the show that much more interesting.
When I wrote The Case of the Bygone Brother, I modeled Alex O’Hara on the conglomeration of fictional female detectives. She is klutzy (like Stephanie Plum), a wise-acre (like V.I. Warshawski), a sleuth (like Nancy Drew), add in tenacity (like Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher). Best of all, she has a romantic interest in Nick Palzetti—like Eve Dallas’ Roarke and Laura Holt’s Remington Steele.
Alex will be up to her old tricks in The Case of the Fabulous Fiancé, which will be available in mid-October.
Who are your favorite detectives?