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10 Most Popular Female Detectives in Literature

As dangerous as she is desirable, Modesty Blaise is the heroine of the cult comic strip created by writer Peter O'Donnell. I love Modesty because she showed it was possible for a female to do all the things her alpha-male counterparts had been doing. She's a female James Bond complete with fatal charms, a criminal background and a thirst for adventure, a woman who can out-fight, out-smart, and out-shoot any man.

In stark contrast to her fellow pulp detective, Modesty Blaise, Bertha Cool was neither flirtatious nor ravishing. She was the rotund, irascible, penny-pinching widow who opened her own detective agency in after her husband died. She was as unsentimental as the hardest-boiled male PIs of her era, but it was pies she had a weakness for, not scotch. Together with Donald Lam, a streetwise disbarred lawyer who becomes her partner, Bertha had incredible longevity and featured in more than two dozen books. This legendary figure appeared in 12 of Agatha Christie's crime novels.

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While kindly and unassuming, she is also worldly with a mind like a steel trap. I love Agatha Christie. She's the author everyone reads when they're eleven years old and then leaves at holiday houses. She is still one of my greatest influences and my new book is a homage to her. Like Modesty, she's also a relative orphan, abandoned and abused by a corrupt state. On the outside, she is a socially awkward diminutive gothic punk, but smouldering under the surface there's a tough, kick-boxing, Taser-wielding terror.

She's as indifferent to physical pain as she is to people, a world-class computer hacker with a fierce intelligence and a photographic memory. A complete original. Annika Bengzton is the creation of Swedish author Liza Marklund. This journalist heroine is the hardest-headed professional in Scandinavian literature today. A tabloid journalist in several of the early books, Bengtzon becomes a crime reporter after falling upon dangerous situations. The Bomber, which introduced Bengtzon to the reading public, is in my opinion the most powerful crime novel of the last 20 years.

I am grateful to Nancy Drew the young amateur detective created by Edward Stratemeyer because she set me — and a lot of other 8-year-olds — onto the path of becoming lifelong crime fiction readers.

Top 10 Female Detectives in Literature

Nancy Drew first appeared in and since then the books have been ghost-written by a number of authors under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. And nothing is quite as hilarious as watching a bumbling detective stumble through an investigation, cause mayhem, and still somehow end up solving the enigma. While it is hard to whittle off many of the great detectives that have been created for humanity by the minds of writers throughout the years, we have undertaken that difficult task and came up with 30 of the best fictional detectives in history.

Sherlock Holmes — No list about the best fictional detectives will ever be complete without this infamous gentleman detective from the mind of Sir Author Conan Doyle. Detective Holmes has been the inspiration for many, many investigative characters since his birth in the late s. He has been reimagined on stage, in radio shows, and quite a few movies. As a detective, he is known for his logical reasoning, early use of forensic science, and penchant for costume. The Hardy Boys — Inspiring the adventures of young boys since , Frank and Joe Hardy, the teenage brother detectives, have appeared continuously in print, have starred in computer games, television shows, and even been parodied in South Park.

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Surrounded in a rather felonious small American town, they play perfectly bonded intelligent young men with free access to cash as they weave their way through the mystery and action that lands in their path. The character was even the brainchild of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, the same group responsible for the Hardy Boys. Nancy was an immediate hit and has seen continued popularity ever since. She has been an inspiration for a number of other girl detectives, and kick started a genre all its own. She is well known for having a can-do attitude, especially noticeable in her ability to drive and fix up her own car.

Despite attempts to keep her domesticated by generations of ghost writers, Nancy has managed to maintain her independent quality. Smirk secretly to yourself. Mary Mead. She is the counterpart to the gentlemen detective genre, a well-bred, well-educated older woman applying her keen wit, experience, and knowledge to the challenges of solving crime.

The character evolved markedly over 40 years, starting off as a shrill and nasty gossip and growing to a more dynamic and well-rounded genteel lady. She had a remarkable tendency to connect every case to a story of her past and casual comments to key details of her current case.

They seem to think life owes them something. Surprisingly, none of his clients ever manage to actually pay him. This was followed by a number of films, radio shows, television adaptations, and one videogame. Philip is the hard drinking, gruff yet oddly charming PI. His rough personality is rounded out with a thoughtful mind well versed in poetry, philosophy, and a fair hand at chess.

He drinks whiskey and is finicky over his coffee. I grieve over them during the long winter nights. Sam Spade — Though not as widely appearing as some of his peers on this list, Sam Spade nevertheless left an indelible mark upon the detective genre. Famously portrayed by Humphrey Bogart in one of the movie adaptations of his book, The Maltese Falcon, Sam Spade is not at all a gentlemen detective.

List of female detective characters - Wikipedia

He appeared first in Whose Body? In and subsequently solved murder mysteries in another 13 novels, 5 short stories, and assorted stage, television, film, and radio adaptations. He is also a wine, fashion, and classical music aficionado. The character was in part a light satire on the British upper class. Hercule Poirot — Around for a remarkable 55 years and appearing in 33 novels and over 50 short stories, Mr. Poirot has been a fixture in the detective genre for many years. Poirot also appeared on stage, in a number of film adaptations, several television shows, an animated series, and a number of radio dramas.

I have warned you of this before. The Scooby Gang — The gang of animated teenaged friends and one oversized dog solve mysteries much to the dismay of the perpetrators whose plots they foil. These meddling kids include an unlikely array of friends, the All-American teen couple Daphne and Fred, the intelligent and shy Velma, the fumbling and perpetually starving Shaggy and his trusted sidekick and trouble-maker Scooby.

These teens have a knack for shattering attempts to use fear of the supernatural to conceal criminal activity. Their antics inspired many television series, a number of films, video games, and stage performances. They are stupid. If you give a boy two choices, a smart one and a stupid one, he will always make the stupid one every time.

Mystery Incorporated. Columbo — A homicide detective for the LAPD, Peter Falk is a gregarious, slightly rumpled detective who manages to get the job done in part because most of his targets underestimate him. Eddie Coyle is an aging criminal caught between dying in prison and ratting out a connected associate. The Bride Wore Black , by Cornell Woolrich Inverting the usual noir paradigm, Woolrich puts us in the head of the titular bride, a woman who methodically and clinically assumes various identities specifically to murder a man, leaving behind mystified police.

Altered Carbon , by Richard K.


Morgan Science fiction often crossbreeds with other genres, but rarely as perfectly as in this cyberpunk story of a future where sleeving in and out of bodies is common—and complicated. Quartet is as cynical and bloody as the first three, introducing LAPD lieutenant Dave Klein, who paid for law school by doing work for the mob. As is typical in classic noir stories, Klein is smart and capable, but finds himself dragged into a conflict out of his control, because when no one plays it straight, how can you trust anyone? In a Lonely Place , by Dorothy B. Claiming to be a writer in order to have an excuse to not have a job, Dix offers to help a detective friend named Brub hunt down a serial killer.

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That survival might cost them the most fundamental bonds people can have with each other, and Thompson once again implies that this is us— all of us—at our core. A Simple Plan , by Scott B. Smith One of the key elements of noir is the erosion of trust and affection when money—or survival—is introduced. The plan is indeed simple, but fails to take into account the chance and randomness of the universe. Strangers On a Train , by Patricia Highsmith Patricia Highsmith is perhaps the only author on this list who could challenge Jim Thompson for sheer bleakness when it comes to her view of human nature.

Nick Corey is a lazy small-town sheriff with no greater goal than to indulge his appetites and stay the course, cheating on his shrewish wife and ignoring her mentally slow brother. But Cady comes to realize that his decision to bring the girl along has doomed them both. Savage Season , by Joe R. Lansdale Lansdale introduces his characters Hap Collins and Leonard Pine, two middle-aged nobodies who work bottom-feeder jobs. He agrees to help a high-class hooker get out of the life, and is surprised when her pimp seems resigned to her retirement.