Wednesday, July 23, 2014

First tastes: 11 terrific female crime fiction stars

Earlier this week I debuted a new series here on Crime Watch, "First Tastes", which will be looking back at novels in which some terrific authors first introduced their series protagonist (often the author's debut novel). I already have some great guest bloggers lined up to contribute to the series - message me or leave a comment if you're interested in being part of it - and it seems there is something in the water, as today The Reading Room, an Australian books website, highlighted "11 Must-Read Debuts of Female Leads in Crime Fiction", listing some great books and characters that I am intending to cover in more depth in my series.

While the men of crime fiction often grab the attention, there are some terrific female leads out there too, and so it's great to see The Reading Room making this high-quality list of intriguing crime characters:
  • THE OLD SCHOOL by PM Newton (Nhu "Ned" Kelly);
  • ONE FOR THE MONEY by Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum);
  • THE MERMAID'S SINGING by Val McDermid (Carol Jordan);
  • STILL MIDNIGHT by Denise Mina (Alex Morrow);
  • BLINDSIGHTED by Karin Slaughter (Sara Linton);
  • INDEMNITY ONLY by Sarah Paretsky (VI Warshawski);
  • POSTMORTEM by Patricia Cornwell (Kay Scarpetta);
  • COCAINE BLUES by Kerry Greenwood (Phryne Fisher);
  • THE SURGEON by Tess Gerritsen (Jane Rizzoli);
  • A IS FOR ALIBI by Sue Grafton (Kinsey Millhone);
  • DEJA DEAD by Kathy Reichs (Temperance Brennan). 
That's a pretty good list. Like any list, there are of course many other authors/heroines that could be added, that some readers will think are better than some on the list. I commend The Reading Room for putting together what is a pretty damned good list though, and highlighting some great female crime writers and crime characters. I own books by all of those authors, but have only read three of those specific 'character debut' tales. Worth going back to the beginning, perhaps. 

For my own part, I'd add the following authors and characters to a "Must-Read Debuts of Female Crime Reads" list: 
  • OVERKILL by Vanda Symon (Sam Shephard);
  • THE BOMBER by Liza Marklund (Annika Bengtzon);
  • THE ICE PRINCESS by Camilla Lackberg (Erica Falck)
  • THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO by Stieg Larsson (Lisbeth Salander). 
I'd also put a plug in for CUT & RUN by Alix Bosco (Anna Markunas), SURRENDER by Donna Malane (Diane Rowe)  - books that introduce a couple of the best, most layered and interesting female leads that I've read in the past decade. At the moment those two characters have only appeared in two books each so far, so perhaps they don't quite fit in a mix focused on longer-running series. Definitely worth reading though!

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