Georgia says she loves Georgette Heyer novels, Fred Astaire films, travelling to far flung places, recipe books, Jilly Cooper, poetry, cosy woollen jumpers, Edith Nesbit, crisp autumn leaves, Jack Gilbert, new stationery, sensation fiction, salted caramel, feminism, Rufus Sewell’s cheek-bones, dogs, and lashings of ginger beer.
Welcome to GHB, Laura. Now over to you.
My top female detective characters
I love a good mystery and, just like me, my character Poppy Pym longs to do a bit of sleuthing. Unlike me, Poppy finds herself in the midst of several real life mysteries and so I get to solve crime vicariously through her. I love reading about girls who are detectives and I thought I’d share just a few of my favourites with you today.
Flavia De Luce
Eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce is the protagonist at the heart of Alan Bradley’s mystery series (the first of which is The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie) and she’s possibly my very favourite girl detective. Flavia is a precocious eccentric who mixes a love of mystery and lateral thinking with the chemistry lab of a mad scientist. Described as a cross between Dodie Smith’s I Capture The Castle and the Addams Family the first book in this series is really fantastic and in my bookselling days I used to make sure a copy was always present in the Young Adult section. It is easy to see the nod to Dodie Smith in the crumbling de Luce family pile, the emotionally absent father, and the deceased mother. There’s something about Flavia’s amusingly hands-on, no-nonsense attitude that will strike a chord with Cassandra fans as well. As for the Addams Family, the reference takes its cue from Flavia’s extraordinary laboratory where she indulges her true passion in life – the study of poisons. Some of my favourite moments in the book centered around Flavia’s disputes with her two older sisters (they tie her up and stuff her in a cupboard, she poisons their lipstick) Very funny. Following her discovery of a dead man in the family cucumber patch it quickly falls to Flavia to clear her father’s name of the murder. A cast of eccentric villagers help and hinder her in this quest, as she pedals around the 1950′s English countryside on her trusty bicycle, Gladys.
I always loved reading Nancy Drew books and from the moment that she swept in in her blue convertible in the first book, The Secret of the Old Clock, I wanted to be just like her. I used to take Nancy Drew books out of my local library, and I was particularly into the Nancy Drew Files series which was released in the late eighties and early nineties. Reading these around aged 10-11 I thought Nancy with her strawberry blonde hair, killer outfits and crime solving moxie was the height of elegance and sophistication. (Take a look at these book covers. if you don’t believe me!)
Another crime solving Nancy! I am currently reading Nancy Parker’s Diary of Detection by Julia Lee. I haven’t finished the book yet but I am enjoying it SO much. The book is set in 1920 and fourteen-year-old Nancy is determined to be a real detective. Unfortunately, she also has to be a housemaid in a sleepy seaside town, but that’s not going to stop a girl with as much pluck as Nancy! A series of local robberies, the secrets being kept by the cook and the mystery of her enigmatic employer are more than enough for this junior detective to get stuck into. I absolutely love reading Nancy’s diary entries, and so far this exciting story has had me laughing out loud many times.
I’m sure I don’t need to introduce you to Robin Stevens’ Murder Most Unladylike series, but it would be wrong to talk about my favourite girl detectives without including them. I absolutely love Daisy and Hazel, and I love the way these books are written. The Holmes/ Watson relationship between the two girls is so much fun, as is the 1930’s boarding school setting. It’s like a glorious mashup of Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie, and as such might have been written especially for me. Not only do I love the books but when I’m finished I pass them along to my dad who loves them too! I think it takes a special book to appeal to so many different readers.
Thanks for sharing your fav female detective characters. Laura’s own wanna-be sleuth Poppy Pym stars in her own new adventure Poppy Pym and the Double Jinx (Scholastic). Available now from all good libraries and book shops.