Women Sleuths in Literature

Women Sleuths in Literature

When we think about women sleuths, maybe only a few names pop into your mind. Over the decades, names like Spade, Holmes and Poirot were what the public heard more often. Below are 10 prominent female sleuths or detectives if you prefer for you to consider the next time you are looking for a mystery to read. In creating this list, I focused on women sleuths who either directly worked as a private investigator or had some other calling and were drawn into mysteries around them. I have excluded those women sleuths who work directly in law enforcement and will include them in a future article on Women Police Detectives in Literature.

Miss Jane Marple - created by author Agatha Christie, she appeared first in the novel The Murder at the Vicarage. They published the novel in 1930. The character is more senior in age and lives in the village of St Mary Mead. The character appears in 12 novels and a series of short stories.

Nancy Drew - created by author Caroline Keene, appeared first in the novel The Secret of the Old Clock published in 1930. At the time the first book was written, Nancy was 16 years old living in the town of River Heights. Many books have been written since the first introduction of the character.

Cordelia Gray - created by author P. D. James made her first appearance in the novel An Unsuitable Job for a Woman published in 1972. The character lives in London, England.

Kinsey Millhone - created by author Sue Grafton, she made her first novel appearance in the book entitled A is for Alibi, published in 1982. The character in the first book is 32 years of age and lives in Santa Teresa. The character appears in a series of 25 books.

Victoria Iphigenia (V.I.) Warshawski - created by author Sara Paretsky, made her first appearance in the novel Indemnity Only published in 1982. Vic lives in Chicago, Illinois. The character appears in 20 novels and novellas.

Temperance Brennan - created by author Kathy Reichs, made her first appearance in the novel Deja Dead published in 1997. Brennan lives in Chicago, Illinois. The character appears in 23 novels to date with The Bone Code in 2021.

Tess Monaghan - created by author Laura Lippman made her first appearance in the novel Baltimore Blues published in 1997. There are currently 13 novels in the series. The character is 29 in the first novel and lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie - created by author Rhys Bowen made her first appearance in the novel Her Royal Spyness published in 2007. There have been 15 books written to date, with the last one being The Late Mrs. Summers, published in 2020.

Kate Shackleton - created by Frances Brody made her first appearance in the novel Dying in the Wool published in 2009. The character lives in England. There have been 12 novels in the series to date, with the last one being Death and the Brewery Queen published in 2020.

Charlotte Holmes - created by author Sherry Thomas as part of The Lady Sherlock Series. There have been 5 books written to date. The first novel was A Study in Scarlet Women, published in 2016.

Have I missed someone?

Have we missed someone that you think should be on this list? Please drop us a comment below and I will look at doing an update to this list in the future.

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1 comment

Miss Phryne Fisher, in the Miss Fisher Myrder Mysteries. The novels are set during the mid 1920’s in Melbourne Australia!

Jaimi Lin

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