[Book Talk] My Favourite Lady Detectives (and Why I Love Them)

11:36 Cilla P 8 Comments

I have a soft spot for lady detectives. I prefer Miss Marple over Hercule Poirot, Nancy Drew over the Hardy Boys. Not that I don't like the men, but there is something about the ladies that's refreshing. This is especially the case when the mystery is set in the past. We all know that anyone can be a detective if they want to be, regardless of gender, but these ladies often have societal norms to deal with. To me, that makes them doubly fascinating.

So today, I want to highlight the lady detectives I love most.

Miss Marple

“But I’m afraid…that we old women always do snoop. It would be very odd and questionable if I didn’t” (Agatha Christie, A Murder is Announced, 163).

First, there's Miss Marple. She's an old lady, so no one thinks too much of it if she asks nosy questions, and they may tell her things they wouldn't tell someone linked to law enforcement. Whereas Poirot may go to crime scenes to observe details, she sits down for tea or knits with the people of interest. That doesn't mean she doesn't care about the technical details though; she gets someone else to gather that information.

Also, Miss Marple is very self-deprecating and often insists that the police have come to certain conclusions all on his own. It's both entertaining and frustrating to me when she does this. Imagine Poirot or Sherlock relinquishing credit to someone else! I also love it though; apart from genuine humility, I kind of think she knows that humility would serve her better than pride in a time where women weren't appreciated for their brains.

Nancy Drew

Ned said "Nancy Drew is the best girl detective in the whole world!"
"Don't you believe him," Nancy said quickly. "I have solved some mysteries, I'll admit, and I enjoy it, but I'm sure there are many other girls who could do the same.” (Carolyn Keene)

Then there's Nancy Drew. Of course she'll be on this list! I found her modern reincarnations first, but I imagine she was ahead of her time in 1930. One thing doesn't change about her: although she gets hit on the head a lot, she gets up when she wakes up and finds her way out.

Phryne Fisher

“Her heart was beating appreciably faster, and she took more rapid breaths, but she was enjoying herself. Adventuresses are born, not made.” (Kerry Greenwood)

So maybe it's because I'm used to the previously mentioned detectives, I didn't expect Phryne Fisher to be sexy. In hindsight, it's a bit sobering that I was surprised by all that; if she were a man (James Bond comes to mind), I wouldn't have blinked. Anyway, she is; in fact, her sexuality is all over the first book/mystery. There's also a conviction about the way she carries herself. It's amusing to me that she can be a sleuth, 'cause most of the time she's the centre of attention.

Rosalind Thorne

The last detective on my list is new compared to the others, but Rosalind Thorne is the sleuth that has to work within social constraints the most. As a woman from a disgraced family in the 19th century London, she started sleuthing as part of her work to protect other women's reputations, rather than out of a desire to solve crime. She relies on her connections to gather information while making sure that she doesn't misstep socially. It's fascinating to read! (My review of the first installment in the Rosalind Thorne Mystery series is here)

Essentially, these detectives accomplish the same work that their gentlemen counterparts do. Not only do they have to solve mysteries though, sometimes they have to work within or around social norms that the guys don't have to. Sometimes they ignore it completely, which is also awesome!

Let's talk!
Do you have a favourite lady detective? 
If yes, why do you love them?


  1. I always prefer lady detectives too Phyrne Fisher and Rosalind Thorne both new to me - I will look them up! Two of my favourites are Maisie Dobbs by Jaqueline Winspear - there is a whole series about her if you like the first one She solves crime in the post WW1 'Downton Abbey' era.
    My very favourite is Precious Ramotswe who appropriately enough runs The Number One Ladies Detective Agency. The books are so wise and warm, gentle and funny. There is a lovely televised version of the first book available. Thanks for an enjoyable post.
    Links below if you like the sound of my favourite lady detectives….

    1. Do look them up! I hope you'll like them as much as I do. I haven't heard of Maisie Dobbs before, but I do like the sound of her and Precious. Thank you for the links! :D

  2. I really want to try a Miss Marple, I've read a couple of Agatha Christie, but only Poirot! Have you read the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency' Books? I loved Precious Ramotswe in the TV series, and the books are supposed to be good :)

    1. I definitely recommend A Murder is Announced! I thiink a famous one is Murder in the Vicarage, but I can't remember if I've read it or not. I haven't read or watched the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, but I think I saw it while scrolling through the library's catalogue! I shall check them out as soon as I can :D

  3. I've been looking for some good mystery with central ladies in them, and so this list is perfect. Miss Marple is wonderful, I was so mad at that TV show that turned her into a young lady because WHY? I need to read the books that features her!

    Aentee at Read at Midnight

    1. I hope you'll like the ladies on this list! And whaaaat?? That is so wrong, and beats pretty much the point of Miss Marple!

  4. I don't really read many detective stories, but I remember loving Nancy Drew when I was a kid (along with the rest of the world). :-)

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    1. She's definitely one of the most beloved fictional detectives!


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