Women in crime fiction, part I - Joan Fleming
25 February 2013
Joan Fleming, twice winner of the CWA Gold Dagger,
creates female characters who often prove to be more than a match
for the men who try to threaten and exploit them.
Orion Crime's Most Wanted book
of the week this week is Becky Masterman's RAGE AGAINST THE
DYING. The novel features one of the most engaging and exciting
protagonists that I have encountered for quite some time. Ex FBI
agent Brigid Quinn breaks all the rules: of her own profession and
of the 'law' that says female protagonists should be young, perky
and in thrall to their male counterparts.
Ingénue, victim, sex symbol, second fiddle: Quinn is none of
these. Not only is she in late-middle-age but she is seen to have
both a physically active and psychologically nuanced personal
relationship in which she is, if anything, the dominant partner. A
far cry from the cardboard cutout victim or femme fatale of much
classic and traditional contemporary crime.
But look a little harder, particularly among the female
crime-writers of the early half of the twentieth century, and it's
perfectly possible to find some unexpected surprises in their
representations of women. One author in particular who embodies a
much more subtle approach than some of her male counterparts was Joan
Fleming. Hugely respected by her crime-writing colleagues and
highly successful, she twice won the CWA Gold Dagger and fully
deserves to be discovered by a new generation of readers.
Try THE MAN WHO LOOKED BACK and MAIDEN'S PRAYER for two women
who turn out to be more than a match for the men who try to
threaten and exploit them.