The bumbling female mystery series. We all know of them. We’ve probably read a few. What makes them so popular?
For me, reading is about escapism and fantasy, as I am sure it is for most people. I also have that little personal issue about being constantly suspicious and believing that everyone is up to no good, for which reading mysteries is generally a good way to calm my overactive imagination and stop me doing something I’ll probably regret one day (like alleging my neighbour is a dirty drug dealer to someone who might actually take me seriously).
Female driven mysteries have really taken off the last few years and I think that the appeal to most readers is the fact that the main characters are, for the most part, an everywoman. They aren’t superheroes, they aren’t cops, they aren’t hard boiled PIs, they’re just chicks who are in the wrong place at the wrong time, trying to hold down a job, pay the mortgage and juggle a family or a couple of hunky men.
They slave away in an ordinary existence, either in a dull job that is beneath them or in a position that doesn’t necessarily accept or respect them, have hangups about their jiggly bits, have unfulfilled dreams and desires (including those of a more intimate nature), would crack the Earth in half for their best mate and fight with some real turds.
Who hasn’t, at one point, been one of these things? Who doesn’t sit there wishing for a bit of excitement in their lives as they slave away at some menial task for meagre pay?
The fantasy element of an everyday woman breaking out of the confines of their mundane life and getting the best of someone who dared to screw them or a loved one over on a day when they were held to ransom by the fearsome PMS beast is incredibly appealing. It’s women taking charge of a situation, however foolish it might be, and saying “you can’t mess with me!”.
Throw in a touch of humour, a bit of snark and a complicated love interest, and you have the recipe for the ultimate guilty pleasure.
I know some people throw it away as “chick-lit” because it’s not forensic or police procedural based and the romantic element makes it sound drippy, but I think that’s giving them the short end of the stick. Do all mysteries need to be steeped in minute pathological and procedural detail to be considered worthy? Do all mysteries have to be serious? Can’t a girl be a badass, or learn to be, while having fun with it?
Of course not. That’s why Janet Evanovich is working on her twentieth Stephanie Plum novel. Stephanie Plum, being the absolute epitome of a bumbling mystery solverer, sells bazillions. Why? Because she’s an inept everywoman trying to make the rent, has a crazy family, a loony bestie, two hot dudes panting after her and keeps getting stuff blown up.
I liked Janet Evanovich’s books. Then when searching for similar books I found blog posts by interesting authors. Then I bought a Kindle and got all of her books. Then Amazon recommends made me buy about 323789 more based on that decision and I found some real gems out there which I’ll begin talking about soon.
The thing they all had in common? All mysteries. All female driven. All normal women going out there and involving themselves in things they had no business involving themselves in, because they believed in something bigger than themselves (either the truth, justice, revenge or the size of their mortgage) and sticking it to the big bad, some jerk who pissed them off along the way and hopefully getting a snog out of it. Who doesn’t want to do that?
I’ve told you why I think the female driven mystery series do so well, why does it appeal to you?
7 thoughts on “The Bumbling Female Mystery Series”
I love this type of romantic/action//comedy/mystery caper – just pure escapist fun! Evanovich is a fav of course and Marianne Delacourt’s Tara Sharp and Kathryn Ledson’s Erica Jewel gives the genre some local flavour, being set in Perth and Melbourne respectively
I haven’t heard of Kathryn Ledson, I’ll put her on my list straight away. I’ve got the Tara Sharp books and loved them. Have you ever read Kirsty Brooks’ Cassidy Blair series? I found them years ago and they’re set in Adelaide. I haven’t finished reading them though as I’ve never found the later books in the stores anywhere (well, not when I had the money to buy them anyway). I should probably check if they’re online.
I have actually, my local library had them – you might check yours?. There were only the four. You might also like Leigh Redhead’s Simone Kirsch series and Maggie Groff debuted with Mad Men, Bad Girls and the Guerilla Knitters Institute last year with the second due out in a few months.
Haven’t heard of those either. Thanks for the recommendations!
My local library is pretty sad. I’ve only read the first two and I think I actually bought them in an airport or a second hand store.
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