Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The ten best lady detectives

Adrian McKinty is the critically acclaimed author of Dead I Well May Be, the award-winning The Dead Yard, The Bloomsday Dead, and Hidden River. McKinty was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and educated at Oxford University. His latest novel is Fifty Grand.

For the (London) Times, he named a top ten list of the best lady detectives.

A little background for the list, followed by #6 in the rankings:
As much as any hairy, beer drinking male can be I believe that I am in touch with my feminine side. I ride a girl’s bicycle, I went to a women’s college at Oxford and I have seen several episodes of Sex and the City (though I am not willing to admit the exact number for fear of damaging my hard-boiled crime writing credentials). As a kid in Northern Ireland I had two older sisters who kept me out of trouble and now I have two young daughters whose agenda is precisely the opposite. I grew up in an era of impressive female role models (Charlie’s Angels, The Bionic Woman, Mrs Thatcher) so I have never had a problem enjoying female protagonists in fiction, especially in detective fiction which became my go-to genre. Now that I have written a XX chromosomed detective in my book Fifty Grand, I thought I would share my own idiosyncratic list of 10 favourite female gumshoes....

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6. Nancy Drew: Heroine of more than 200 ghost-written novels from the 1930's onwards Nancy Drew has evolved from a teenage flapper to a bobby soxer to a pseudo hippie to a modern career girl. Rich, 18, clever, with a conveniently dead mother, Nancy is an amateur sleuth with the time and money to solve crimes both frivolous and often surprisingly serious, aided sometimes by her attorney father or her cadre of friends. For a brief ante-Potterian period the playgrounds of the western world were divided into boys reading Hardy Boys books and girls reading Nancy Drew. Unable to bear the insufferably smug Hardy Boys I much preferred the slightly caustic, manipulative and invincible Drew. Nancy Drew’s influence cannot be underestimated, inspiring legions of American female cops, judges and politicians and crime writers like Laura Lipmann, Sara Paretsky and Linda Fairstein. Drew uses the tools of observation, persistence and her own gut instinct for a wrong ‘un - which is usually right on the money.
Read about another lady detective on the list.

Visit Adrian McKinty's blog.

The Page 69 Test: Fifty Grand.

--Marshal Zeringue