Thursday, February 13, 2014

Detective with a Lulu Bob: Mystery Fiction Set in the 1920s

We recently discovered Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, an Australian TV series based on the Phryne Fisher mysteries by Kerry Greenwood, and we can't get enough of them! Phryne (we just feel like we would be on a first-name basis) is a wealthy twentysomething aristocrat living in Melbourne in 1928.  The show is a wonderful ensemble piece, with her maid Dot, taxi drivers and jack-of-all-trades Bert and Cec, her butler named Butler, and her ward Jane all joining in her sleuthing adventures. Phryne "can fly a plane, drives her own car (a Hispano-Suiza) and sometimes wears trousers" [Wikipedia], and lives her sophisticated life to the fullest (including a lively love life), as she solves mysteries at a dance hall, a circus, the opera, a ladies' magazine, among anarchists, and more.

Phryne is "glamorous and indestructible" [Booklist], and we're so smitten with her '20s flapper panache that we thought we'd delve into more female detectives from that era. Here's a list of some other crime-solving women, organized by character name (author) - though we can't guarantee they'll all be as sassy as Phryne!

Jade del Cameron (Suzanne Arruda)
ambulance driver in WWI and adventurer in 1919-1920s colonial East Africa

Kate Shackleton (Frances Brody)
private detective whose husband is MIA in WWI, in 1920s Bradford, Yorkshire, England

Daphne du Maurier (Joanna Challis)
young aspiring author in 1920s Cornwall, England

Laetitia Talbot (Barbara Cleverly)
archeologist based in post-WWI France

Daisy Dalrymple (Carola Dunn)
journalist in 1920s Hampshire, England

Dandy Gilver (Catriona McPherson)
well-to-do woman in 1920s Scotland

Dorothy Parker (J. J. Murphy
the witty writer in 1920s Manhattan, New York City, in the Algonquin Round Table mysteries

Maisie Dobbs (Jacqueline Winspear)
psychologist and investigator based in 1920s and 1930s London, England

Character descriptions were taken from the website Stop, You're Killing Me!  For more mysteries set in the 1920s, check out their Historical Index.

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