The best books featuring kickass female detectives

Who am I?

I’ve always been interested in the dark side of the human psyche and how people choose or are driven to do the awful things that some of them do. Equally, I enjoy reading and writing stories that feature strong women, who may be scared and vulnerable at times, but who are brave, intelligent, and determined to see justice done. I began writing The Kate Redman Mysteries because I wanted to write about a detective who, despite an appalling upbringing and without much care and support, really believes in her career and in protecting the underdog. In the interests of equality, I like to include quite a few female villains too. 😉


I wrote...

Hushabye

By Celina Grace,

Book cover of Hushabye

What is my book about?

A missing baby. A murdered girl. A case where everyone has something to hide... On the first day of her new job in the West Country, Detective Sergeant Kate Redman finds herself investigating the kidnapping of Charlie Fullman, the newborn son of a wealthy entrepreneur and his trophy wife. It seems a straightforward case... but as Kate and her fellow officer Mark Olbeck delve deeper, they uncover murky secrets and multiple motives for the crime.

Kate finds the case bringing up painful memories of her own past secrets. As she confronts the truth about herself, her increasing emotional instability threatens both her hard-won career success and the possibility that they will ever find Charlie Fullman alive... 

The books I picked & why

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Nemesis: A Miss Marple Mystery

By Agatha Christie,

Book cover of Nemesis: A Miss Marple Mystery

Why this book?

Nemesis is the final book to feature Miss Marple. She’s one of the most beloved female detectives of all time, and personally, one of my older-women goals. Miss Marple is a genteel, twittery, white-haired old lady, all of which is a most useful disguise for a mind like a steel trap, and a propensity to solve and avenge all manner of horrible crimes. Nemesis is not Christie’s best book, but it is surely one of Miss Marple’s most challenging and emotionally resonant cases. A posthumous request from an old friend, the millionaire Jason Rafiel, sends her off on a quest for justice, which proves both terrifying, melancholic, and yet, in her final triumph, oddly uplifting. 

Nemesis: A Miss Marple Mystery

By Agatha Christie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nemesis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Even the unflappable Miss Marple is astounded as she reads the letter addressed to her on instructions from the recently deceased tycoon Mr. Jason Rafiel, whom she had met on holiday in the West Indies (A Caribbean Mystery). Recognizing in her a natural flair for justice and a genius for crime-solving, Mr. Rafiel has bequeathed to Miss Marple a £20,000 legacy -- and a legacy of an entirely different sort. For he has asked Miss Marple to investigate...his own murder. The only problem is, Mr. Rafiel has failed to name a suspect or suspects. And, whoever they are, they will…


When Will There Be Good News?

By Kate Atkinson,

Book cover of When Will There Be Good News?

Why this book?

A horrific multiple murder opens this book but to understand the ramifications of it, we jump to the present where we meet DCI Louise Monroe. Her story runs parallel with that of the main protagonist Jackson Brodie, but Louise is a worthy character in her own right; fiercely feminist, brave, loyal, a reluctant but loving mother determined to keep other women safe. We meet her again in future books in the series which are also excellent. An honorable mention must also go to schoolgirl heroine Reggie Chase, another brave, intelligent character who does her best to solve one of the mysteries in the book.

When Will There Be Good News?

By Kate Atkinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Will There Be Good News? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The third Jackson Brodie novel, winner of Richard & Judy's Best Read: literary crime from the number-one bestselling author of Big Sky and Transcription.

'An exhilarating read. Her wry humour, sharp eye for the quirks of human behaviour and subtle characterisation are a constant joy' Daily Mail

In a quiet corner of rural Devon, a six-year-old girl witnesses an appalling crime. Thirty years later the man convicted of the crime is released from prison.

In Edinburgh, sixteen-year-old Reggie, wise beyond her years, works as a nanny for a G.P. But her employer has disappeared with her baby, and Reggie seems…


The Likeness

By Tana French,

Book cover of The Likeness

Why this book?

We first meet Cassie Maddox in Tana French’s debut book, In the Woods, but in her second showing, she really shows her mettle. Recovering from the betrayal she undergoes in the investigation of a brutal child’s murder in the first book, Cassie is recruited for an undercover assignment to solve another murder – but this time, it’s the death of a young woman who she eerily resembles. Cassie must pretend to be the dead woman and gain the trust and confidence of the group of charismatic oddballs who were the closest friends of the victim. I loved Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and The Likeness is something of an homage to that modern classic – with a heroine who’s brave, scrappy, and determined to see the case through to the bitter end.

The Likeness

By Tana French,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Likeness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Still traumatised by her brush with a psychopath, Detective Cassie Maddox transfers out of the Murder squad and starts a relationship with fellow detective Sam O'Neill. When he calls her to the scene of his new case, she is shocked to find that the murdered girl is her double. What's more, her ID shows she is Lexie Madison - the identity Cassie used, years ago, as an undercover detective. With no leads, no suspects and no clues to Lexie's real identity, Cassie's old boss spots the opportunity of a lifetime: send Cassie undercover in her place, to tempt the killer…


The Body Farm

By Patricia Cornwell,

Book cover of The Body Farm

Why this book?

Dr. Kay Scarpetta isn’t a professional detective – she’s the Chief Medical Examiner for Virginia. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t get to be embroiled in all kinds of bizarre murder cases – including the baffling death of an innocent young girl which results in Kay having to visit the gruesome pathologist’s playground known as the Body Farm. Kay is tough, a good shot (which comes in handy in this case, I can tell you), and willing to use her incredible forensic skills to bring the guilty to justice.

The Body Farm

By Patricia Cornwell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Body Farm as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Body Farm - a research institute that tests the decomposition of corpses. Black Mountain, North Carolina: a sleepy little town where the local police deal with one homicide a year, if they're unlucky, and where people are still getting used to the idea of locking their doors at night. But violent death is no respecter of venue, and the discovery of the corpse of the corpse of an 11-year-old girl sends shock waves through the community. Dr Kay Scarpetta, Chief medical Examiner on a similar case in Virginia, is called in to apply her forensic skills to this latest…


The Silence of the Lambs

By Thomas Harris,

Book cover of The Silence of the Lambs

Why this book?

Everyone knows Clarice Starling from Jodie Foster’s incredible performance in the film adaptation of the book. But the student FBI agent from the novel is just as vulnerable, courageous, and tenacious as her film portrayal. The soaring intellect of the serial killer Hannibal Lecter meets its match in Starling’s equally incredible brain, and she demonstrates something he will always lack – empathy and compassion.

The Silence of the Lambs

By Thomas Harris,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked The Silence of the Lambs as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As part of the search for a serial murderer nicknames "Buffalo Bill," FBI trainee Clarice Starling is given an assignment. She must visit a man confined to a high-security facility for the criminally insane and interview him.

That man, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, is a former psychiatrist with unusual tastes and an intense curiosity about the darker corners of the mind. His intimate understanding of the killer and of Clarice herself form the core of Thomas Harris' The Silence of the Lambs--an unforgettable classic of suspense fiction.


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