Historical Mystery Lovers discussion

26 views
Q & A Discussions > Female Vs. Male Investigators

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (laurenjberman) | 1678 comments Mod
Of the series I'm currently reading, some of have female investigators and these books seem to have more of a cozy feel to them (Molly Murphy, Lady Darby, Beth Crawford) while others have male investigators and the books have a darker more thriller type tone (Sebastian St. Cyr, Matthew Bartholomew). Agree? Disagree? Thoughts on this distinction (if I'm not imagining it)?


message 2: by Meghan (last edited Aug 10, 2015 10:46PM) (new)

Meghan | 266 comments I think it may depend on how you classify "cozy". To me, a cozy is one that has recipes or knitting patterns or something like that in the back. In that aspect, Lady Darby or Bess Crawford have never gone that way in my mind. (I've never read Molly Murphy.) I've always mentally put Sebastian St. Cyr in the same category as Lady Darby, Lady Julia, Lady Emily, etc. (I realize my definition of "cozy" is not the general one. It's just how I've always pictured them in my mind.)

At the same time, I've always felt that the Miss Marple mysteries seem to be less complex than the Poirot ones; I don't know if that's actually the case or just my perception.

Has anyone read the Ian Rutledge books? I'm curious as to how they would classify them vs. Bess Crawford, given that they're by the same author.


message 3: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (laurenjberman) | 1678 comments Mod
Meghan wrote: "At the same time, I've always felt that the Miss Marple mysteries seem to be less complex than the Poirot ones; I don't know if that's actually the case or just my perception."

Very interesting re Poirot vs. Miss Marple. I've never really thought about it but you are right Meghan. Poirot always seems more sophisticated and worldly as compared to Miss Marple who often compares events to the small town microcosm of St. Mary's Mead.

I'm also interested in the Rutledge vs. Crawford comparison from those who've read them both.


message 4: by Sandy (last edited Aug 11, 2015 06:19AM) (new)

Sandy | 1137 comments I haven't read either Rutledge or Crawford (though Crawford is lined up on my ipod). Two series that I have some experience with are Anne Perry's William Monk and the Pitts. I have read 10 - 11 of Monk and only the first two of the Pitts. (I decided I should choose between them to avoid confusion.) The Monk stories are darker: Monk is a moody character with a mysterious past and there is a strong woman lead character, Hester, who was a nurse in the Crimean war now trying to earn a living on her own. The Pitts are a married couple (at least after the first book) and she is an upper class lady and he is in the police. Both series have brutal crimes, but I felt the Pitts had a lighter tone. So, is the tone lighter because the characters are happier?
I'm wondering if I think of a mystery as lighter because the lead is a woman. Comparing two of our recent reads, "Anatomy of Death" and "Plague on Both Their Houses", I think of Dody as lighter but not sure I can justify that opinion.


message 5: by Shomeret (last edited Aug 11, 2015 01:45AM) (new)

Shomeret | 147 comments I don't think that all mysteries should be categorized as either cozy or noir. Some are neither. Cozy and noir are extremes. I feel that there's an entire spectrum between the extremes. There are series that are realistic without being too dark and depressing.

Anne Perry has never written any cozies. The Pitt series is realistic. I feel that Felicity Young is also realistic. Dody has to deal with some very serious issues in her life. She doesn't lead a sweetness and light existence. If Felicity Young wrote cozies her protagonist wouldn't do autopsies. That in itself is a dark element that people who read cozies would never want to read about. It's too messy and unpleasant. They'd prefer a world where people who do autopsies are in the background. The cozy investigator learns the results of the autopsy but never performs them or witnesses one. A woman doctor in a cozy novel would have lady patients who are hypochondriacs. Her worst problem would be that she's bored. That's why she investigates mysteries, but she never gets her hands dirty.


message 6: by D.G. (new)

D.G. Lauren wrote: "Poirot always seems more sophisticated and worldly as compared to Miss Marple who often compares events to the small town microcosm of St. Mary's Mead. "

But I don't think that has anything to do with gender per se but with the characters itself. Poirot is cosmopolitan, wealthy and very worldly as he's traveled all over the world while Miss Marple is from a small town and can only afford certain luxuries because of her nephew so their approach to murders is different because of how they see things. In those days, you couldn't have a famous detective as a woman so that wouldn't have sense but if you notice, Poirot and Miss Marple are somewhat similar once Poirot is retired and he's just considered a nosy old man.


message 7: by Meghan (new)

Meghan | 266 comments D.G. wrote: "Lauren wrote: "Poirot always seems more sophisticated and worldly as compared to Miss Marple who often compares events to the small town microcosm of St. Mary's Mead. "

But I don't think that has ..."


I guess I never looked at Marple's mysteries as being simpler due to being in St Mary Mead instead of more exciting places. I just always thought Marple's mysteries were easier to figure out the answer to (the only Agatha Christie mysteries I've ever correctly guessed the ending to were Marples). Then again, that may just be me.


message 8: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (laurenjberman) | 1678 comments Mod
D.G. wrote: "In those days, you couldn't have a famous detective as a woman so that wouldn't have sense but if you notice,"

Meghan wrote: "I just always thought Marple's mysteries were easier to figure out the answer to (the only Agatha Christie mysteries I've ever correctly guessed the ending to were Marples)""

Both interesting points. So it could be argued that Marple's cases are more simplistic (for want of a better word) because it would make sense for a woman in her time period to be involved in something more complex.


message 9: by B.B. (new)

B.B. Oak | 4 comments B.B. Oak
I find historical mysteries that have both a male and female protagonist (for instance Robertson's Harriet & Crowther series, and of course Perry's Hester & Monk and Charlotte & William series) more interesting because men and women lived in different "spheres" in the past and each sex sees what is hidden from the other sex. Therefore both points of view are needed to solve the mystery. This approach works for Ben and me in our own 19th century series. -- Beth


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 463 comments I like both historical mysteries with female protagonists, and those with male leads.

Mostly I'm just attracted to a good, well-written story, hopefully with no glaring historical errors and a good solid mystery!


back to top