15 Female Detective Novels To Read While You Mourn Nancy Drew
This year Nancy Drew turns 90-years-old. But instead of throwing her a well-deserved party, the writers behind Nancy Drew & The Hardy Boys decided to kill off the beloved girl detective, leaving the Hardy Boys to investigate her murder. One hell of a way to celebrate.
Almost immediately after the news was announced, fans on Twitter began to react to the series' "fridging" — a comic book term, coined by Gail Simone, referring to a phenomenon in which writers use the death of a female character to advance the male character's plot — of Nancy Drew.
"The Nancy Drew books were powerful because a smart, brave, independent young woman solved crimes by doing all the things we got told weren’t for girls. Killing her off so two male characters can have as adventure is the ultimate betrayal of that legacy," one reader tweeted.
"Nancy Drew probably hasn't been killed off, but a much better way to tell this story would have been to have a bunch of girl detectives inspired by her do the work of solving what happened to her," another echoed. "Bringing those Hardy jamokes in doesn't pay tribute to her; it shoves her aside."
But writer Anthony Del Col and artist Joe Eisma told io9 that they hope readers give the story a chance, and insisted that they haven't fridged the decades-old heroine (but would not say for certain whether she was alive or dead). Is it possible that Nancy Drew faked her own death in the comics? Of course. Does that make the optics of killing off a beloved female character to give her guy friends something to do any better at all? Not really.
So for those who want to take their mind off the disrespect and remember why we love lady sleuths in the first place, here are 15 books with female detectives that aren't Nancy Drew. Read them and savor them as you try to recover from this travesty.
And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander
Lady Emily wasn't heartbroken when she became a widow. She married the Viscount Ashton out of convenience, after all. But after discovering that her husband truly cared for her, Emily rededicates her life to his field of study — classical languages, art, and culture. When her newfound hobby brings her to the British Museum, Emily uncovers a plot involving the disappearance of ancient artifacts, and throws herself into solving the case.
Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett
Winner of the Agatha and Anthony Awards for Best First Novel, Kellye Garrett's Hollywood Homicide centers on Dayna Anderson, a struggling actress whose close proximity to a hit-and-run accident prompts her to become an amateur sleuth. The pursuit of justice is all fun and games... until Dayna finds herself in a killer's sights.
Blind Goddess by Anne Holt
Drug dealing has taken over Oslo's legal scene in this gripping thriller from 1222 author Anne Holt. Håkon Sand and Hanne Wilhelmsen believe there's a connection between two recent murders: the bludgeoning of a drug dealer and the shooting of a lawyer. When a colleague tips them off to a rumor about shady lawyers selling drugs in the city, Sand and Wilhelmsen are plunged, headfirst, into a deep web of intrigue that may implicate some of the most powerful people in Norway.
Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
Stevie Bell came to Ellingham Academy with one goal in mind: to solve the decades-old cold case involving the disappearance of founder Albert Ellingham's wife and daughter. The kidnappings were, ostensibly, carried out by the mysterious entity known only as "Truly Devious," who left Ellingham a creepy and callous riddle shortly after the tragedy. Stevie thinks she can crack the case, but she didn't count on Truly Devious showing up for another round of play.
The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan
In her debut novel, Ausma Zehanat Khan introduces readers to Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak, a detective duo in the Community Policing Section, which deals with cases involving members of marginalized groups. The apparent suicide of Christopher Drayton doesn't seem like a case for Getty and Khattak, but when the partners learn that Drayton may have been a Bosnian Serb Army official responsible for the Srebrenica massacre, their investigation takes a turn.
Goldie Vance, Vol. 1 by Hope Larson, Brittney Williams, and Sarah Stern
From Hope Larson (Batgirl), Brittney Williams (Adventure Time), and Sarah Stern (Pumpkinheads) comes this fun comics series about a 16-year-old girl detective. Goldie wants to become the next resident detective at her father's Florida hotel, and she gets her first crack at the gumshoe life when a case turns up that's too much for Walter, the current in-house investigator, to handle.
A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee
Victorian orphan Mary Quinn got a second chance at life when she entered Miss Scrimshaw's Academy for Girls. Trained as a spy, the 17-year-old pickpocket is all set to embark on her first mission. A merchant's ships have disappeared, and Mary must pose as a lady's companion in his household to find out why.
The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
At 28 years old, Izzy Spellman has finally had enough of her family and their business, Spellman Investigations. Spying on other people is enough, but her parents have just put Izzy's own teenage sister on her tail. She wants out of the whole family affair, but she'll have to solve a 15-year-old cold case before she's allowed to leave.
The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
Perveen Mistry has just returned home from Oxford to work in her father's law practice, but being a female lawyer in the 1920s comes with its own set of challenges. When three widows living in religious isolation sign away their claims to their husband's sizable fortune, it's up to Perveen, the only female lawyer in Bombay, to find out why.
Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
Half-human and half-fae, private investigator Toby Daye has resigned herself to a life without family. But her past catches up to her when one of the Bay Area's most powerful Faerie rulers is killed. Called back into her old life, Toby must reassume the mantle of a knight errant in order to solve the case, but she's working against the clock. The murder victim has cursed her to uncover the truth or die trying.
Murder on the Red River by Marcie R. Rendon
Sheriff Wheaton has known Cash for almost her entire life. He rescued her from the wreckage of her mother's car when she was a toddler. Now, all Wheaton wants is for 19-year-old Cash to have a normal life, complete with college and a secure home. But when a dead Indian man turns up and Cash begins dreaming about the family he left behind, Wheaton realizes that he might need her to stick around living an odd life for a little while longer.
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
In 1914, Constance Kopp and her sisters have been living in exile for 15 years, trying to keep their heads low while remaining above water. But when her family gets tangled up in a dispute with a local gang, Constance finds herself enlisted by the local police to help solve the close-to-home case by bringing the vigilantes to justice.
A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas
The first in a series of gender-bent Sherlock Holmes novels, A Study in Scarlet Women centers on Charlotte Holmes, the tradition-bucking daughter of a wealthy Victorian family. After a catastrophic faux pas renders Charlotte an outcast from good society, she finds the freedom to solve a serial murder case that has cast a shadow of doubt over her remaining family members.
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
Years after a series of fateful events allowed her to rise from domestic servant to independent woman, Maisie Dobbs has elected to embark on a new career as a private investigator. Hired to determine whether a husband's suspicions of his wife's infidelity have any basis in reality, she follows the trail to a mysterious Retreat for shell-shocked veterans. Maisie must go undercover inside the Retreat to find out more about why her client's wife is so interested in one of its former residents.
Aunty Lee's Delights by Ovidia Yu
Widowed and wealthy in Singapore, Rosie "Aunty" Lee doesn't intend to rest on her laurels. She has big plans for her restaurant, the eponymous Aunty Lee's Delights, but a murder connected to a missing reservation could throw a wrench in the works. Luckily, Aunty Lee is very good at sticking her nose in other people's business, and that's exactly how she plans to find out who killed whom and why.