Spunky Mystery Heroines
February 2019

If you enjoy reading mysteries with feisty heroines such as bounty hunter Stephanie Plum (by Janet Evanovich), private investigator Kinsey Millhone (by Sue Grafton), or sidekick Barbara Havers (by Elizabeth George) — then you may enjoy some of my favorite mystery heroines who are less well known.

The Honourable Daisy Dalrymple, the charming and vivacious daughter of a Viscount, chooses to become a journalist rather than living on an estate and being supported by her relatives.  The series is set in the 1920s in post WWI England, during which attitudes toward class, gender, and ethnicity are starting to change.  Daisy works in tandem with—or meddling with—Scotland Yard’s Adam Fletcher.  The series of 23 books is written by English-born American writer Carola Dunn.  Best to read them in order, starting with Death at Wentwater Court.

Bubbles Yablonsky, a curvaceous, seemingly ditsy hairdresser investigates murders she literally stumbles upon.  The series of six books by Sarah Strohmeyer starts with Bubbles Unbound, winner of the Agatha Award for Best First Novel.  My other favorites are Bubbles Ablaze and Bubbles A Broad.

Opening paragraph: “For most of my adult life, people in this town have passed me over as just another dumb blonde fascinated by soap operas and gossip.  My name, Bubbles Yablonsky, doesn’t help matters any.  Nor does the fact that my profession is hairdressing, my body resembles a Barbie doll’s and my fashion weaknesses are hot pants and tube tops.”

I also really like Alexandra (“Alex”) Barnaby, heroine of Janet Evanovich’s little-known series consisting of only two books, Metro Girl and Motor Mouth, plus two graphic novels.  Barnaby blasts through South Florida with Sam Hooker, “a NASCAR driver who’s good at revving a woman’s engine.”

Opening paragraph: “When I was twelve my dad taught me how to use an acetylene torch.  After I mastered welding, he gave me some spare parts and our old lawn mower, and I built myself a go-cart.  When I was sixteen, I started rebuilding a ten-year-old junker Chevy.  I turned it into a fast car. And I raced it in local stock cars for two years. . . . So, I could build cars, and I could drive cars. I just never got the hang of driving them without destroying them.”

A final example is eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, a precocious aspiring chemist, solves the murders in this series set in an English village in the early 1950’s. Flavia was hailed as “a combination of Eloise and Sherlock Holmes” by The Boston Globe.  The first book in the series, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, is by far the best and was awarded multiple prizes including the Debut Dagger Award.  The nine-book series is written by Canadian author Alan Bradley.

For other Delightful Mysteries, click here.

What are some of your favorite series and favorite detectives?