Five Books featuring female detectives

recommended by Dominique Gracia

Five of my favourites featuring female detectives from across the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries

  • 1


    Dorcas Dene, Detective: The Complete Adventures (Black Heath Classic Crime)
    by George Robert Sims

    Tricky to find these days, this collected edition of the Dorcas Dene stories features mistress of disguise Dene turning her hand to detective work after her artist husband becomes blind. Sims is a wonderful scholar of human behaviour, and Dorcas a delight.

  • 2


    Blackstone Fell (Rachel Savernake)
    by Martin Edwards

    From mid-series, by this point we have gotten to know Rachel Savernake well enough to enjoy the plotting and the familiarity of the character. Historical fiction throwing us back to the golden age, this is a wonderful embodiment of all that so many of us love about the genre.

  • 3


    Scorched Grace: A Sister Holiday Mystery (Sister Holiday Mysteries, 1)
    by Margot Douaihy

    The newest of my choices, and the first in a series, so the character and author are just settling in. But what a premise. The smoking, drinking, punky lesbian nun who swelters and swears her way through New Orleans is as intriguing, if very different to, Sister Boniface, the nun with a forensics doctorate who crime-solves her way around the Cotswolds on TV. I’m a sucker for an amateur detective with an unusual vocation or extraordinary skill set, and Douaihy’s makes this one to watch out for.

  • 4


    Pale Horse
    by Agatha Christie

    A little bit of a stretch, but I give Ariadne Oliver the title of female detective here. Agatha Christie’s self-parody, Oliver is an author of crime novels and pals with both Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. She appears in several stories, but in this one she plays an important role in the unravelling of the murders, and its here that her friendship with both Christie’s great detectives brings them into the same universe.

  • 5


    Revelations of a Lady Detective
    by William Stephens Hayward

    One of the originals, long pre-dating Sherlock Holmes. Mrs Paschal and her fellow detective G (Mrs Gladden) enter the popular imagination in 1864, but for grit, verve, and spunk, Mrs Paschal is my favourite of the two.

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