There are hundreds of amazing characters, authors, actors, all of them marvelous women of mystery, murder, and (or) mayhem. They author books, or are characters in them, are on television, in the movie theatre. Here is my favourite five of these women, listed in countdown mode (to build suspense of course).
5. Sgt. Suzanne “Pepper” Anderson – Yes, Police Woman. Angie Dickinson’s ground-breaking role hit television screens when I was just eleven years old, but I’ve never shaken her from my adolescent memories. Yeah, she was pretty. Sure, she was a blonde bombshell. But man, could that woman kick some serious criminal butt! I later learned that as a result of Police Woman, applications by women to real police departments around the US surged. This show, this character, this actress, all paved the way for other hour-long dramatic series with female leads including some other favourites of mine, Charlie’s Angels and Cagney and Lacey. Which leads me to….
4. Christine Cagney – Brought to life by the inimitable Sharon Gless, Christine Cagney, partner to Mary Beth Lacey, was one driven, ambitious, and seriously flawed woman. She grew up wealthy thanks to her mother, but followed in her father’s footsteps and became a cop. She loved her single life and only waxed poetic about love and a family of her own when she had a pregnancy scare. Over the series, her alcoholism was revealed. But no matter what her personal life threw at her, including the death of her father, who she discovered was on the take, Cagney’s ambitions and drive to become the first female police commissioner were front and centre. She was a role model for women in the eighties who were struggling with the choice of career over starting a family.
3. Sara Sidle – This crime scene investigator on the original CSI is one of my favourite characters. She holds a certain sadness in her eyes, in her gait, even in her smile. She never seems fully happy or at ease. I often wondered if the name her character was given was a near-homophone of ‘suicidal.’ But despite that, she perseveres, even leaving for a while and then coming back. This is her calling and she is damn good at it. And she knows it.
2. The women of Criminal Minds – most all of them. Specifically Emily Prentiss for her brilliance and her empathy and her secrets and her past. She’s seen it, done it, lived it, died from it – almost. She is one tough broad. And Jennifer “JJ” Jareau. She snuck in on pretty blonde tiptoes in the early seasons and became a force of nature. Don’t mess with JJ, especially if her son and husband and FBI family are at risk. And don’t get in the line of her gun sight. The woman is a crack shot. But most of all, Penelope Garcia. Because she is odd and brilliant and without her most of the mysteries would remain a mystery. She dives into the ugly day and in and day out and fills her life, her office, her hair, with colour and kitsch and silliness to ward off the evil and to desperately hold onto some sense of good.
1. Agatha Christie – Dame Agatha will remain in my heart as the ruling queen of mystery and murder. She penned an astounding number of books – almost 90 novels, plays, and short story collections. And I read every single one of them before I turned eighteen. I first discovered her in 1977, and within four years had devoured all her murderous plots. A fun weekend for this book nerd was sitting in my room alone with the door closed, and polishing off three Christie paperbacks in a row.
Her characters are those of legend – Hercule Poirot, the petite master of mystery with his mustaches and his pince-nez and his sirop de cassis. Miss Jane Marple, single old lady of questionable means of support. And my sleeper favourites, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford who were the focus of the first Christie work I read, Postern of Fate, and of the book with the best title ever, By the Pricking of My Thumbs.
Many don’t know that Agatha also wrote six romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott. I tried to like them, honestly I did. But I couldn’t make it through even a few chapters of Giant’s Bread. Why not? Maybe because no one died a gruesome death and my teenage lust for blood wasn’t satisfied.
I credit Ms. Christie with my adult lust for blood…. Thank you, Agatha. I adore you.
When Mazie Reynolds was a young girl, she believed monsters lived under her bed. Now a grown, married woman, she discovers one sleeps in her bed.
Mazie schemes to save herself and her daughter. Her plan will work, if she can out-maneuver the monster who is a master of manipulation and control. She’s got one thing going for her, the one thing she truly owns. Mazie has moxie to the bone. But will it be enough?
(warning – language, violence, sex)
It Isn’t Cheating if He’s Dead is the BigAl’s Books and Pals 2014 Reader’s Choice Award winner for women’s fiction.
Jemima Stone waited four long years for her missing fiancé to come home, burying herself in her job and feeding the homeless. When Gerald is found dead halfway across the country, she is devastated. Detective Finn Wight promises to uncover the truth behind Gerald’s mysterious death.
Delivering sandwiches to her homeless friends, she discovers a newcomer. Though he refuses to speak, his haunted eyes tell Jemima that he is in trouble — hiding from someone or something. Jemima turns to Detective Wight in hopes of helping the man. But uncovering his true identity leads to the discovery of secrets none of them could have imagined.
Women of Murder, Mystery & Mayhem
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