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The Female Detective

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3.06  ·  Rating details ·  210 ratings  ·  47 reviews
In 1864, the British writer James Redding Ware (1832–c.1909), under the pseudonym Andrew Forrester, published The Female Detective, introducing readers to the first professional female detective character, G., and paving the way for the more famous female detectives of the early twentieth century, namely Miss Marple and Nancy Drew. This edition from the British Library mak ...more
Paperback, 316 pages
Published October 1st 2012 by British Library (first published 1864)
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3.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  210 ratings  ·  47 reviews


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Nancy Oakes
I can't really give a number on this one but it's somewhere between like a 2.8 and a 3. I was just so disappointed, which hasn't been my reaction to any book up to now in my history of mystery reading project.

Having finished this book now, I have to say that out of the seven stories in this book, there are only four in which the "female detective" plies her craft. It's rather disappointing, when I think about it, since it seems to me that if you're going to write about a woman detective this ea
...more
Lorena
Dec 25, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Interesting for its historical significance, for the most part, and for explicitly acknowledging the private spaces to which a woman would have access that a man would not. Also interesting as a perfect encapsulation of the early Victorian versions of what constitutes a "happy" (or at least satisfying) ending...inconvenient children not born to the appropriate parents under the appropriate circumstances die young before they can inherit; legal but morally suspect heirs drop dead (apparent cause ...more
Damaskcat
May 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of short stories featuring Mrs Gladden - the first female detective. The book is primarily of interest because it shows how crimes could be detected by deduction and by meticulous collection of evidence. Mrs Gladden has a huge advantage over her male counterparts in that she is not generally regarded with suspicion because she is female. She has another profession as a milliner and as such she can go into houses where she makes and repairs hats and can sit and chat with the ...more
Bev
The Female Detective was published in 1864. Written by James Redding Ware under the pseudonym Andrew Forrester, it not only represents what is probably the first stories about the Metropolitan Police (formed in 1829) but also introduces readers to the first professional female detective in fiction. She is unnamed in the longest story, "The Unknown Weapon," but in other stories by Forrester, she is referred to as Mrs. G---- of the Metropolitan Police. She makes reference to herself and another fe ...more
Brittany (Lady Red)
Aug 29, 2018 rated it liked it
This one was tough to get through. It wasn’t that it was badly written, just too loaded with details that distracted from the story.
It was wonderful to see the first female detective regardless, particularly since I’m writing one myself.
Annie
Jul 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a not insignificant portion of the bookish world that seeks out the first instance of particular characters and genres. Because I am a trivia hound, I follow scholars who try to identify the first novel (probably The Tale of Genji, by Murasaki Shibiku, depending on how you define it), the first science fiction story (probably The Blazing World, by Margaret Cavendish), etc. etc. The first time I tried to chase down the first instance of something happened after reading “The Purloined Let ...more
russell barnes
This is a rum do and no mistake.

Plucked from the British Library's archives, the problem with this collection is one of false advertising: In the back of your mind, driven by the blurb and introductions (including one Alexander McCall Smith must have knocked off at the wrong end of a bottle of gin) is the much-heralded lineage of narrator, "Mrs G" as the eponymous - and first ever - literary female detective and ancestor to Miss Marple, Mma Ramotswe, and (apparently) Lisabeth Salandar.

Whilst th
...more
Heather
May 08, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
It was incredibly interesting to read a Victorian take on the female detective. I think fans of historical novels will like this a lot, but if you are going into this expecting an early Miss Marple, you will be disappointed. This isn't that kind of novel; a cozy mystery. This is a collection of tales from the career of this Female Detective. The stories don't follow the the normal pattern of more modern detective tales, so don't expect a complete beginning, middle, and end. But if you are intere ...more
Mary
The first British mystery with a female detective, published in 1864. Just came out this year by Poisoned Pen Press. Not beautifully written but you get used to the style. Two novellas and six short stories. The detective earns some of her money from the new London police force, on the QT and some as a milliner but she seems to have independent means. She avoids identifying herself as a detective, getting her information on the strength of her wits. I don't think I'd recommend you rush out and b ...more
Christopher Roden
Jun 01, 2016 rated it liked it
First published in 1864, this collection of stories from the British Library archive present England's first female detective
While historically interesting, the cases presented are narrations in method, and generally no one is brought to book as a consequence of the investigations.
The language and style is very much mid-Victorian and this is a book very much of its time.
Argum
Not sure what I expected from this book, but was curious what the worlds first female detective fiction looked like. I thought it was interesting and maybe it fits better in its own time period than modern stories, but it seemed a bit pat. Some stories just ended - oh I set out to tell the story of the weapon not how I escaped to tell the tell. That just seems like cheating to me. Sometimes it was unclear exactly who was telling the story - not that it didn't say but what was the point, she didn ...more
Barbara Bengston
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Written in the mid-1800's, before there were any female detectives. It was interesting how the author described the detection process. Little is made known of the detective herself. Several crimes are presented and how they were solved, or not solved, was described. The laws at that time were also described and how they were applied to the cases.
Andrea
Did Not Finish. The narrator is way too intrusive in these stories; always apologizing and justifying and overexplaining in a way that just gets in the way of the story. I actively did not want the detective to succeed in the first story; it was so clear that interfering was completely unwarranted and it was unclear what her motives were. I couldn't take it any more. This was no fun at all.
Lucy Jane
Sep 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-books
Short stories have never really been my cup of tea and here was no exception. I would have enjoyed one long story where characters were met properly and The Female Detective became better known to the reader than she was here.
Molly
Jan 04, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
Kat Walter
May 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting, but not pleasurable, read.
Vintagebooklvr
Dec 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Probably the first book where a female is the lead detective and actually employed as such. She is portrayed as a very competent detective and even tracks down a mystery herself for in hopes of making some money. The language, typical for its time period, sometimes is distracting in a bad way.
Nancy
May 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
The Female Detective was published in 1864 when law enforcement organizations were cutting edge. Mike Ashley's introduction to The Female Detective notes the first British police agency was organized in 1829 and Scotland Yard was created in 1842. Edgar Allen Poe introduced the first detective in fiction in 1841. Alan Pinkerton employed the first woman detective in 1856. The character of 'Miss B', undercover police agent, was novel and original.

The Female Detective stories were written by Andrew
...more
Judy Lesley
I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press.

The detective/mystery novel is my favorite type of novel to read. Add into that mix a story set in an historical setting and I'm ready to settle in and enjoy myself. I also like to read this type of book to learn more about the history of the mystery genre. This book was published in 1864 and now the first e-book edition will be released by Poisoned Pen Press and the British Library in 2016. There is a Foreword written by
...more
Sarah-Hope
Aug 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
The Female Detective is a delightful piece of literary history. Originally published in May, 1864, it is believed to be the first book-length collection of detective stories featuring a female detective. The protagonist and narrator, who never tell us her name, but sometimes uses the aliases Mrs. Glasser or G, appeared at a time when women had not yet entered the ranks of British police, so in a sense these are not just detective stories, but alternate reality pieces as well. The fact that G liv ...more
Annette
THIS BOOK SHOULD ACTUALLY BE A 3-1/2 STAR BOOK.

The book was originally written in 1864. That was the final year of the American Civil War. That was a year before President Lincoln was assassinated. That was the year Nevada was admitted to the Union as the 36th state. In other words, this was a long time ago. But, the ideas expressed and the descriptions of people and situations are very much as they would be today.

The stories are credited to Andrew Forrester, but are believed to be a pseudonym
...more
A.R. Collins
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book as someone who bought it because there was a bonus loyalty points offer on British Library Crime Classics, and I thought this was the one to get because the social history would be interesting. Well, it is - and it's a cracking read too!

It's a lighter read than many or most Victorian prose, which was nice, much as I love Jane Eyre and Dracula etc.; in this case the more economic use of words was a help, with a genre that I'm not particularly into. Our narrator breaks down the my
...more
Crittermom
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Female Detective stands out because it is literally the first novel published that features a woman who is a professional detective, as opposed to an amateur. Her identity is obscured, as are the reasons she chose her profession. All readers are given is one of her aliases, Miss Gladden or “G”. Despite being written by a man, The Female Detective challenges the preconceived notion that a woman’s inherent sensitivity prevents her from comprehending the nature of criminals or applying justice. ...more
David Proffitt
First published in 1864, The Female Detective is a book ahead of its time, as the first real female detectives were still half a century away. But that’s not all that is unusual about this book. For one thing, we never know the real name of the detective in question. She is referred to as Miss Gladden, but other than that she remains anonymous.

Also, this is not one story but a selection of narratives, some too brief to be called short stories. And even those that are long enough can hardly be co
...more
Katherine
May 31, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit-england
This is the first I ever read of Andrew Forrester (or James R. Ware) and I wonder how it is his name is not more frequently mentioned in the genre (although I got an idea) Apparently these are the first stories ever published in English about a woman detective so that should give him some credit.

On the other hand they are not really detective stories but more memoires from a woman who was either really good at her job or just very, VERY nosy. In not one of the stories she is actually asked to in
...more
Debbie
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, mystery
"The Female Detective" is a mystery novel that was originally published in 1864 and is set in England. Miss Gladden is a professional, undercover detective. She's clever and usually assumes the role of a genteel woman on hard times until the arrest is about to be made.

The style was of a memoir containing five cases that she solved and two that were of interest to her. The focus was on the facts of the case and her deductions from those facts, not on her as a person. It's like getting the final s
...more
Mel
Dec 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
I loved that this was a story about a woman detective that was written 50 years before there were any women detective. The author did a wonderful job of showing how great women would be as detectives and wrote as if there were already many women detectives and spies in the world which was really lovely. Rather than one long novel this was a series of short stories or cases that the detective did or didn't solve. I liked that sometimes she didn't figure it out till too late. Some of the cases wer ...more
Faith
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
A historically significant classic crime book featuring an early female sleuth.

Published by the fabulous Poisoned Pen Press, The Female Detective is a great find for anyone interested in the history of crime fiction. Originally published in 1864, I’ve heard it claimed this is the first or one of the first female detective books.

The main protagonist is a sort of female Sherlock Holmes who is vastly independent and courageous for the era.

She holds to truth and justice at whatever the cost – even
...more
A. D. Norton
Jul 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is an amazing book. One of the first female detectives. It's an important entry in the genre. It also showcases so many amateur sleuth tropes we are now familiar with such as a "stake-out", following someone, being for hire, working with a police department, double-crossing clients, and even the Mafia. Pretty amazing since it's mid nineteenth century. My favorite is the reason the police inspector hires her to investigate is because she's a detective "in petticoats."

The genre of this book i
...more
Emma
Jan 19, 2016 rated it liked it
I liked it. It was great reading a detective story from the perspective of a female detective because it's something I've never read before, but I did have a few issues with it.

1. there were a couple of stories that were't particularly captivating and made it a little slow at times - the second to last story in particular.

2. Sometimes the font in my edition was hard to read. It's great that the publisher kept it as a typewriter font for authenticity but when the lettering had irregularities or
...more
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