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As a writer I’m often asked “Who makes a better detective? Male or female?”
It’s a tough question and one subject to opinion. If I was to ask Hercule Poirot who is the world’s best crime fighter, he would immediately bounced back with “Hercule Poirot is the world’s best detective” and deliver in such a confident way that I wouldn’t dare question him. Lynda La Plante’s Jane Tennyson would violently disagree and to cop a death stare from Helen Mirren would probably cause me to buckle.
It’s a big topic and without me throwing myself under the bus with my female readers and not upsetting the strong egos of my male followers, lets look a amateur women sleuths to see if we can get any clarity.
Possibly the most famous woman sleuth is Miss Marple, Agatha Christie’s leading female crime fighter. In looking at Jane Marple, Agatha Raisin, Rosemary and Thyme there are some distinctive traits of female crime fiction here:
- Female detectives are lonersWhile not as dark as their male counterparts who may sport a hat and overcoat while sleuthing around, women sleuths tend to be more on their won. Policing is a male dominated area and women detectives are often isolated away from the ‘boys club’. This follows for our ‘busy bodies’ who mostly act alone. Agatha Raisin is a slight exception who does rely on her team but usually solves the murder on her own.
- Women Sleuths are more subtleWomen are less intrusive. They tend to be better conversationalists, mingle easier and have more friends. With that in mind they can extract vital information from a suspect without it being an interrogation. On the other hand their male counterparts tend to barge in to situations, exert their authority and demand answers. Males tend to flag their intentions whereas females fly under the radar.
- Lady crime fighters have to be more resourcefulBecause they are not as physically strong as their male detectives, they need to be more tactful.
- A woman sleuths character is importantReaders want to connect with their characters whether they are male or female but they crave to know more about a woman’s character. Where does she come from? What’s her upbringing? What issues does she face? How has she overcome problems in the past or is she still fighting her demons? Strong women are most enjoyed by readers.
So there are some points, valid or not, that are open to your opinion. What do you think? Do women make better amateur sleuths? I would love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer them