As a former bookseller — and eternal avid reader — I've encountered more crime novels than most. And I've got stronger feelings about crime novels than most, too; specifically, I'm profoundly angry about the treatment of women across a large swathe of the genre. While the following certainly isn't true of all thrillers, too often women are reduced to brutalised victims, voiceless bodies, and convenient lenses through which the complex, tormented male protagonist may be viewed (please, spare me another relentless male detective with a haunted past). But there's an alternative! Read one (or more!) of these five feminist crime novels, and never suffer through gratuitous violence against women again!
So what, exactly, constitutes a feminist crime novel? I'll admit to inventing my own, fairly loose, criteria. The novels below don't glory in the many horrifying ways women can be attacked; they don't set up flimsy female characters only to write them to a viciously unpleasant end. Instead, they prioritise the voices and interior lives of their female characters. They take an insightful, occasionally subversive approach to the crimes they depict (and when they're inspired by true events, they go beyond media sensationalism). And another guarantee? Every one of the five novels below is a thoroughly excellent read.