P.I Favourite 5 Female Investigators
“Rain flecks slide seductively down the exterior of the dingy basement window. A man sits in the shadows, boots on his desk, watching the foot traffic pass by the small pane of glass. The ash from his Brick House cigar lingers on the precipice, scared to let go. The man’s mind emulates the ash. They tell him the case is dead. They tell him to let it go. But he is hanging on. After all, this is his last hurrah.”
Terra Dark – Anthem Fox
The image of a brooding, shadowed figure of a man is classic detective or P.I. noir. He’s probably wearing a Deerstalker or a Fedora hat. An overcoat wouldn’t be too far removed from “fictional reality”.
We love classic, manly, whiskey-scented detective stories.
But what of the female Private Eyes? How are they represented? What are some good female detective representations in fiction?
This list is arguable of course, (and likely to receive a part II,) but to get the mental ball rolling and to pay some homage to the female sleuths in the world, here are my ‘Favourite 5 Fictional Female Investigators’ (incorporating P.I.s, detectives etc.) Despite the blog entry title I’m going with “Favourite” rather than “Top” because it’s harder to argue right?
- KALINDA SHARMA (The Good Wife)
Kalinda Sharma has to be my favourite, non-main protagonist investigator. Sharma was the in-house private investigator at Stern, Lockhart, Gardner, the fictional law firm from the TV series ‘The Good Wife’. She was portrayed by actress Archie Panjabi.
Kalinda was so often the key to cases being won. Many were won with new evidence being discovered and brought to attention by Kalinda at the 11th hour which speaks to her “never give up” attitude. Kalinda is not only whip-smart but she is super stylish.
- AMY SANTIAGO (Brooklyn 99)
Amy Santiago of Brooklyn 99 fame may get a lot of slack from her co-workers about her fastidiousness, but it is the incredible resolve, ambition and drive that makes her a queen among “she-nerds”. She’s a proud Latina geek who is also tough as nails and will fight like hell for those around her. Her sense of humour could go toe to toe with even the “Daddest of Dad Jokers”. Amy has a strong moral compass and is extremely unselfish. She may get ribbed for her bland attire, but she probably needs to remain fashionably subdued to contain her awesomeness.
- JESSICA JONES (Marvel Comics)
Jessica Jones first made an appearance in 2001 as a character in the Alias comics which, while not initially concepted to centre around her character, did so when it was realised how interestingly layered she was. Jessica is an on again off again superhero who, to step away from the tight costumes and hero limelight founded Alias Private Investigations. Jessica may have superhuman strength and the ability to fly but it is her willingness to sit within her own thoughts and analyse the world around her that make her an excellent investigator and one worthy of my “Favourite 5” list.
- VERONICA MARS (Veronica Mars)
“Dogged determination” is the term that comes to mind when I think of Veronica Mars. Admittedly I was late to the party watching this sharp, stylish and gritty teen noir TV series. I had only seen Kristen Bell in adult roles before jumping back in time to catch up on the critically acclaimed 2000s series last year. Bell plays a popular high-schooler who loses that shiny façade when her best friend and fellow socialite is murdered. Using the tools of her P.I. father’s trade Veronica turns to crime-solving and in the process becomes a high school outcast. The fact that she relishes her freedom from the shackles of elitist expectations is one of the joys of watching this character. She is real and honest about who she is while also discovering that there is more to discover about herself. We get to see that with every case solved, Veronica develops and progresses as a person.
- NANCY DREW (Nancy Drew Mystery Stories)
As if I could go past Nancy Drew. She is probably considered THE icon of female detectives. She is a cultural stand out whose name is pretty much synonymous with detective work alongside other names like Sherlock and Poirot. Nancy has had a number of permutations over the years and has appeared as a character on every form of media imaginable.
She first appeared in 1930 as a super sleuth in a series created by publisher Edward Stratemeyer. The books don’t just have one consistent author but are ghost-written by a number of different authors under the collective pseudonym Carolyn Keene.
Nancy Drew was an immediate hit! This can be evidenced by reading a Fortune magazine cover story from 1934 where it is written: “Nancy is the greatest phenomenon among all the fifty-centers. She is a best seller. How she crashed a Valhalla that had been rigidly restricted to the male of her species is a mystery even to her publishers.”
It wasn’t just the stories that made Nancy Drew a popular read when it first appeared or a popular read through the generations since the character’s birth, but it was and is Nancy’s intelligence, thoughtfulness, bravery, and independence that keep readers engaged. She didn’t just break a glass ceiling, she obliterated it.
Who are your favourite female investigators from fiction?
Which of these investigators are you most like?
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