Many female mystery writers speak about how it all began when they read Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden or Cherry Ames. I must confess I read none of those as a child. Instead I read the Hardy Boys and thus began my long-standing crush on Frank Hardy. He was the older brother with the dark hair. My friends growing up may remember I never yearned for the popular tv stars like Michael Landon, Lee Majors or Bobby Sherman. I went for the “older” ones: Pernell Roberts, Peter Breck and whoever played the oldest brother on Here Come the Brides (sorry, sir). When I wasn’t plowing my way through my brother’s Hardy Boys books, I was reading about Henry and Ribsy’s antics along with their friends Beezus and Ramona.
When did I catch on with female sleuths? During my freshman year of college I succumbed to a rather nasty bout of mononucleosis. I missed the entire second semester that year. What was a girl to do when she wasn’t sleeping? Read. I’d been turned on to Agatha Christie the year before in a high school Detective Fiction course. I devoured the entire Christie collection during that semester. Tommy and Tuppence were fun, Hercule was a pip but I loved Miss Marple. She was so innocuous, yet she didn’t miss a thing. She showed me what an individual could accomplish if one paid attention to details, conversations and observation of people’s behaviors. That was all I needed.
I’ve never looked back and continue to discover more and more in the way of strong female detectives in fiction. Yes, yes, I still read guy stuff. And I still develop “crushes” on male protagonists. In fact, the dog in my novel in progress is named after one of my all-time favorites: Tommy, after Tommy Lynley in the P.D. James series. I look forward to each new adventure with Elvis Cole, Joe Pike, Alan Banks, Lucas Davenport, JP Beaumont and a bevy of other fictional male protagonists. But I also delight in the activities of Kay Scarpetta, Temperance Brennan, Ali Reynolds, Stephanie Plum (and Grandma Mazur), Kinsey Milhone, VI Warshawski, and scores of others.
I’m a reader, plain and simple. Reading teaches me so many things. It gives me a rich vocabulary; it teachest me to wonder and dream; it takes me places around the world for just the cost of the book. Most of all, it shows me women can be a strong force in the world and respected.
Isn’t it sad that so few young people read these days…
Pick up a mystery and read. Let it transport you. There are so many sub-genres within mystery, there is literally something for everyone. If you’d like a recommendation, please ask. I’m more than happy to “hook you up.”