Crime Novels with Female Leads?
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Ive read a few crime novels in the past couple of months and have been disappointed by those with female leads. Ex:
Cross Bones, Book of the Dead, Altar of Eden
My problem is that there is always the romantic interest in these books. Maybe I'm weird but I'm more interested in the crimes and investigations than their on again off again romances.
Ok so I'm weird.. I'm a woman that doesn't want to read about romance, at least not in my crime novels. It sort of gives me the message that women cant be strong and smart without a man to back them up.
Any recommendations for books like these that aren't sidetracked by cheesy romance?
I wasn't that keen myself, but the rest of the world is nuts about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and the others in that series. If you're interested in English crime books you might like Elizabeth George's books that feature Inspector Lynley and his (non-romantic) sidekick Barbara Havers. There are others, I know, but they don't immediately spring to mind - I'l probably be back. And I'm also a woman who doesn't want to read about romance - not constantly, at least.
Wookie - why did I read your entry as 'U is for Underwear'? The mind plays funny tricks.
ETA _ Touchstones not working right now.
#4 I wonder how she plans to have someone murdered with a xylophone, three books from now.
Try the Lee Harris series with Dective Jane Bauer of the NYPD, Sharon McCone a P.I. by Marcia Muller.
Carol O'Connell's Kathleen Mallory series.
Peter Lovesey's Hen Mallin series.
I agree with Kathy Mallory, one of my favorites.
For a different twist, try the Sharon McCone series by Marcia Muller. Start at the beginning, Edwin of the Iron Shoes and work forward, watching her develop into one of the few successful female PIs.
There's also Deborah Knott, Bootlegger's Daughter is the first, by Margaret Maron, which I don't remember being overly romancy, and her previous, short and sorely missed Sigrid Harald series.
Then there is Lily Bard, of the Shakespeare series by - get this - Charlaine Harris. You would never guess that this is the author of Sookie.
quartzite, have you read the new V I, Hardball? I was disappointed. Nothing seems to have changed for her in all these years.
Christie's Miss Marple books don't focus on Ms. Marple's love interests. In the same line, Patricia Wentworth's Miss Silver books aren't bad.
Gillian Linscott's Nell Bray books.
Stephen Booth's Cooper and Fry books (one male, one female).
Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon books.
Yrsa Sigurðardóttir's Thóra Gudmundsdóttir books.
Elizabeth George's Lynley/Havers books (one male, one female).
Peter Tremayne's Sister Fidelma books.
You may be excited to know that Maron's newest work, which she's writing at the moment, will feature both Deborah *and* Sigrid. It's technically a Deborah Knott book, but Sigrid does show up in it. (We'll be talking more about this on our blog at http://www.womenofmystery.net on Monday as three of our blog members had the great pleasure of going to lunch today with Margaret, so pop on by...)
#8 Might be a bit tricky to find a catchy title (or one that'll fit on the cover) by book 8,376.
I am failing miserably to come up with much in the way of sensible suggestions. Dorothy Gilman's Mrs Pollifax books?
How much romance is too much? Would Alexander McCall Smith's Number One Ladies' Detective Agency books fit the bill?
Thanks for all the suggestions, looks like I have a good list to go through. Should keep me busy for a while.
I have read Number one Ladies' Detective Agency It was pretty humorous. I wasn't a big fan of the other book he wrote 44 Scotland Street that I picked up at the same time. Of course its a totally different genre ... too rambly for my tastes.
Try S.J. Rozan's Lydia Chin/Bill Smith series. The books alternate the characters as primary protagonist. They are both independent P.I.s who help each other out on their cases. Bill is probably in love with Lydia, but Lydia has no time for romance so its not in there. Series begins with China Trade.
I adore T. Jefferson Parker's Mercy Raybourne books. She is tough and smart. There is a love interest in The Blue Hour, but--believe me--it's no romance. Also, in general, he's just a terrific writer.
Honorable Mention must go to Robert B. Parker's Sunny Randall series, of which I assume there will be no more, since Parker died yesterday.
He has three books still in the pipeline ready to go, according to what I've read. I know one is a Jesse Stone book, but I don't know about the other two. Maybe there will be a Sunny Randall among them.
One is a Jesse Stone, one is an entry in the Cole and Hitch western series. I have both of those on pre-order from Amazon. I don't know of a third book coming out. Actually, the Sunny Randall series hasn't grabbed me the way his others have, especially since (SPOILER AHEAD) he quashed the potential love relationship between her and Jesse Stone.
laytonwoman3rd, I made the mistake of listening to a few of the Sunny Randall books. In the audio, the constant "he said', "she said", "he said', "she said" was incredibly annoying. I must have glossed over it in the print versions, but went back to check and they're there. Haven't been able to read one since, darn!
I don't recommend audio for this series!
LauraKCurtis, didn't see this until today. Great news! I will check the blog.
To all: What great picks! This was like a big reminder of books I really enjoyed.
I'll have to check out some of these, but I wanted to suggest the Mrs. Pollifax series by Dorothy Gilman. Also, the Miss Seeton books by Heron Carvic are entertaining, at least in small doses - they're one I can only read one or two at a time, then I get annoyed and have to read something else for a while.
Neither of them may be quite what you're looking for, but both have strong female leads, although Miss Seeton especially, and sometimes Mrs. Pollifax, seem to be more lucky than skillful in their investigations.
Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs novels come to mind. Maisie has the occasional date, but she solves her own crimes and doesn't need to be rescued by a romantic hero.
I'm surprised no one mentioned J.D. Robb and Eve Dallas. Sure, they have a romance element, but Lt. Dallas seriously kicks ass. Her sidekick Peabody is hilarious too.
Lynda La Plante has a very short series (in fact it might be just 2?) of books with a female detective, Anna Travis.
And there is a US detective called Smoky Barrett but I can't recall the name of the author.
Dope by Sara Gran is an excellent stand-alone novel written in a 50s noir style.
As far as Sue Grafton is concerned, I'm extremely fond of Kinsey Milhone as a character, but I do think the mystery plotting can sometimes be a bit thin.
Denise Mina for quirky, gritty Scottish mysteries.
Carolina Garcia-Aguiler for Cuban female PI in Miami
Both are great series!
Definitely should try Charlaine Harris Lily Bard series.
Shakespeare's Landlord...has nothing to do with vampires or any kind of supernatural creatures. Just a very good series. Remarkably dark, considering Harris's usually lighter tone, but nonetheless my favorite Harris series.
A lot of these do have a romantic interest though. Lily Bard does, Eve Dallas does, Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, Mrs. Pollifax does -- I think it depends on how much romance is too much.
These aren't series's but both Nikki French and Jane Hill write with female leads but they are not detectives they are usually ordinary women caught up in a crime, mostly as victims forced to act to solve things themselves. They do have relationships but they rarely fall into the "strong woman still needs a man" catagory.
Edit: The Jane Hill I mean wrote The murder Ballard, Grevious Angel and Can't Let Go, her author touchstone brings up lots of other Jane Hill's. Can't Let Go is my favourite of the three.
I've just started Acts of Malice by Perri O'Shaughnessy, which is book 5 (I haven't read the others) in the Nina Reilly series. There seem to be some pretty good LT reviews for these books.
Although Charlaine Harris does give Lily Bard a romantic lead, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who would classify Lily Bard under the "women cant be strong and smart without a man to back them up" section. Lily Bard can do bad all by herself...cheesy but there it is :)
Just started The Missing by Chris Mooney which has CSI Darby McCormick as the lead character. Only read a few pages so far, so can't tell if she is going to be interesting
Kate Wilhelm's Barbara Holloway is a great one that I don't think has been mentioned yet.
You sound like someone who might enjoy the "Baby Shark" series (4 of them) by Robert Fate published by Capital Crime Press. They're hard-hitting;nothing "cozy" here. You can look into them through my library or they're available at Amazon or at Capital Crime Press' web site. Won't say much more about them so as not to spoil. If you enjoy, contact me; may have some others, but this is first to come to mind.
Can't get much better than Dana Stabenow and the Kate Shugak mysteries set in Alaska.
#49...Strongly agree with your recommendation of Dana Stabenow's 'Kate Shugak', both the character and the series.
Have you read Gregg Olsens Fictional books. Newest out 2010 is Victim 6, others are The Wicked Snow, A Cold Dark Place, and Heart of Ice? They are scary and full of suspense. Although written by a male author, the main characters are women who may have relationships, but books are mostly about the murders etc.
Great series!!! I have them in audio and hardcovers. The audios are sooooo scary, instead of going to sleep at night, It keeps me up. Great idea for above question!!
How about the all too few books written by Sarah Caudwell? OK, I'll admit that, technically, we're never told whether their sleuth, Hilary Tamar, is male or female, but, at least for me, there's not much question.
Some British readers on another site I frequent have commented that, from their experience of universities, Hilary could be male or female. I tend to go back and forth on that question, but I always enjoy the books, and they do have a couple of interesting female characters in Selena (looks like a Persian cat who's just completed a successful cross-examination) and Julia (looks like a disheveled heroine of Greek tragedy).
I recommend the police procedurals of Lee Martin, a former police officer--her main character is Deb Ralston, a major crimes detective in Fort Worth.
In the Posadas County mysteries of Steven Havill, one of the detectives is Estelle Reyes-Guzman. These are excellent novels with a strong sense of place.
I'm currently in the middle of Sharp Objects, which promises to be excellent. Not having got to the end yet I can't promise no romance but the main character, Camille Preaker, is an interesting yet troubled woman indeed. I suspect that if romance should intrude (and there is a character who just might be headed that way with Camille) it won't be in the usual wishy-washy way. I'll try and remember to give an update when I finish the book.
Some mystery authors do relationships better than others, and don't cross the cheesy line. Try Beverly Connor's Diane Fallon series, starting with One Grave Too Many.
Although she does have a boyfriend, their relationship is given no more weight than any of ther relationships (friends, co-workers,etc). The focus is on the mystery and the science.
And I second the Charlaine Harris Lily Bard series recommendation. Rather dark in tone, but a great character.
>58 Sherri1287: I really like Beverly Connor's books also! Love the Diane Fallon ones.
I am reading U is for Undertow by Sue Grafton right now and enjoying it though she does have a lot of extra stuff going on......lots of characters too but no romance.
#57 Yup, Sharp Objects turned out well (for me, not necessarily for the characters) - nicely dark and creepy and Camille didn't let me down.
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