Hi everyone! Today I have a special guest for you. To celebrate the release of her new novel, Fatal Act (to be published at the end of May), Leigh Russell stopped by the blog to talk about her thoughts on female detectives on television.
Leigh Russell on Female Detectives on Television
Judging by the number of emails I receive asking when my detective Geraldine Steel is going to appear on the small screen, I might be forgiven for thinking there aren’t enough female detectives on television. Yet there are currently roughly the same number of female detectives as male ones on television these days. Starting as genteel private sleuths like Jane Marple and Jessica Fletcher, female police detectives have developed from sergeants to male inspectors, as in Linley and Rebus, to emerge as powerful protagonists in their own right: Jane Tennison, Vera, Rizzoli and Isles, Scott and Bailey, to name just a few.
On reflection, it isn’t hard to find a reason for the rise in the number of female detectives on television. In fictional detectives viewers encounter the vast variety of human life. Holmes, sharp-eyed and logical, poetic Dalgleish, dour Dalziel, brusque Taggart, twee Miss Marple, harrassed Rizzoli and Isles, plodding Vera, clumsy Goodman, widowed Foyle, witty gambler Cracker, ovuncular Frost… they each bring their own unique character to the genre. Because crime fiction not only satisfies our need for moral order, it also gives us a snapshot of society. Today, female officers occupy over thirty per cent of senior posts in the police force. This hasn’t always been the case. The evolution in gender representation in crime fiction is a reflection of cultural norms in society. Can you imagine Inspector Lestrade as a female officer? Even omniscient Sherlock Holmes would be surprised by the cultural shift towards gender equality in the workplace that we now rightly assume should exist.