“I have solved some mysteries, I'll admit, and I enjoy it, but I'm sure there are many other girls who could do the same.”—Nancy Drew
And so there are. Whether a historical cozy mystery to read along with a "cuppa tea" or a contemporary hard-boiled mystery that requires something stronger, female detectives have always been on the case.
Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie is the first of the Miss Marple books. Who killed Colonel Protheroe? Miss Marple soon discovers that pretty much everyone in the village had a motive.
Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters (pen name for Egyptologist Barbara Mertz) introduces us to Amelia Peabody, a scholar and suffragist with a knack for becoming embroiled in the latest mystery involving rogue archaeologists and other ne'er-do-wells, usually while on an archaeological excavation in Egypt and to the exasperation of her husband and other family members.
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear is a psychologist and an investigator in post-World War I England. After serving time as a maid in the household of Lord Julian and Lady Rowan Compton, she leaves to serve as a nurse during the war. After the war she assists Dr. Maurice Blanche, a detective with a mysterious past. Upon his retirement, she opens up her own agency.
"A" Is for Alibi introduces us to Kinsey Millhone, a police officer turned private detective, and is the first of Sue Grafton's "Alphabet Series," in which Millhone investigates the death of a prominent divorce lawyer.
Indemnity Only is the first of Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski series. Victoria Iphigenia Warshawski, "Vic," grew up on Chicago's Southeast Side. After a stint as a public defender, she becomes a private detective specializing in white-collar crimes.
Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman is the first in the Tess Monaghan series. Tess is a former hotshot journalist who suddenly finds herself unemployed. Needing to pay the bills she uses her investigative skills to become a private investigator.