5 Badass Women Detectives

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Mayur Didolkar runs a financial services business in Pune. A fan of popular fiction, he has published one novel and several short stories. He writes for Swarajya and The Quint, and has run two full-marathons. His crime thriller, The Dark Road, begins on one such marathon, when a runner is found dead. Her rich industrialist mentor hires a super-smart private detective, Prasanna Killedar, to investigate. But who would want to beat a young girl to death? 

Didolkar tells us his 5 favourite female fictional detectives, all kick-ass, and all who can solve a murder with perfection:


Whenever I think about my favourite women detectives from popular fiction I remember what the protagonist Payton Kendall in Julie James’s novel Practice Makes Perfect says- ‘Never send a boy to do a woman’s job, Irma’. And really, it is hard to imagine some of the best crime fiction novels without these 5 awesome female detective characters.  So here they are, in no particular order.

Rachel Walling

Creator- Michael Connelly

Designation- Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Novels- Poet, The Narrows, Echo Park, The Reversal among others.

Rachel’s father Harvey Walling was a cop with Baltimore PD. We learn about Rachel’s troubled past, including the possibility of being abused by her father, and his subsequent death ruled as a suicide over a course of a few books. Rachel is tough and yet sensitive. She often run afoul with the powers in the Bureau and yet she never loses focus. Her choice of lovers often lands her in trouble and still we root for her in every novel we meet her in.


Clarice Starling

Creator- Thomas Harris

Designation- Trainee and subsequently Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Novels- The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal

The Silence of the Lambs spawned countless imitations of ‘woman law enforcement agent with a past’ novels. But like the novel, Clarice’s character too, is often imitated and very rarely matched. From trading secrets of her painful past with a sociopath like Dr Lecter in order to save a young woman’s life, to staying on his trail even as her own career crumbles around her in Hannibal, there is a nobility to Clarice that is rarely found in the in-your-face, fast-talking cops in popular culture. Anybody who grew in a small town will identify with her vulnerabilities and her values.


Angela Gennaro

Creator- Dennis Lehane

Designation: Private Investigator

Novels- A Drink Before the War, Gone Baby Gone, Moonlight Mile among others.

Angie and her partner in the investigation business Patrick Kenzie have been childhood friends and ‘on again off again’ lovers, though the current status of their relationship rarely affects their ability to work together.  Angie, much like Lehane’s protagonists, is a tough Boston girl. While her partner Patrick may fall to the occasional bout of melancholy, Angie is a gal who never seemed to have any trouble knowing where to plant her feet.



DS Annie Cabbot

Creator- Peter Robinson

Designation- Detective Sergent subsequently promoted to Detective Inspector, Metropolitan police department, London.

Peter Robinson’s In a Dry Season, the tenth novel in the DCI Alan Banks series was the first to feature DS Annie Cabbot. It is widely regarded as Robinson’s best work and brought him the coveted Anthony Award for best novel in 2000. DS Cabbot comes into Bank’s life when he is going through a difficult period in his personal life, and Cabbot, who has her own ghosts from her pasts to exorcise, (including being sexually assaulted by her own colleagues) form a bond borne out of a shared sense of grief and loneliness. Robinson’s moody, atmospheric setting provides perfect foil to the brooding, complex character.


Esperanza Diaz

Creator- Harlan Coben

Occupation: Private Investigator/ Sports Representative

Novels- Deal Breaker/ Drop shot/ Fade Away among others

So what makes this supporting character in the Myron Bolitar series of novels so cool? Here we go- she is a former professional wrestler, her stage name was Little Pocahontas and she was part of FLOW (Fabulous Ladies of Wrestling). In the later part of the series, she gets a law degree and becomes a partner Bolitar’s Sports Representation business. Tell me, you don’t want to read more!


Read Mayur Didolkar’s crime thriller The Dark Road on Juggernaut here: https://goo.gl/CX4mYs


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