Thursday, October 1, 2009

How many bones? 206 Bones?

The world of mysteries has some terrific female detectives and investigators. While we are eagerly awaiting the latest Temperance Brennan novel 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs (who I heard read at the Lord Nelson a few years ago, just awesome, by the way!!) let's look at some other women detectives, each with their own strengths and individual personalities.

Not to overlook Tempe, of course. I haven't seen Bones myself, but I understand the character is a bit different on screen. She's younger (it's Hollywood after all) and less worldly wise. Brennan is a forensic anthropologist who conducts crime scene investigations. Like all appealing detectives, she is flawed. Tempe is a recovering alcoholic and is passionate and somewhat hot-headed about her work. The focus of these novels is not so much on the killer but on Brennan, her work and her relationships with the police and her colleagues. Check out the Acadian connection in Bones to Ashes.

Kinsey Millhone is another troubled sleuth created by Sue Grafton. She's a loner whose family history is revealed throughout this long running series. She began her career as an insurance investigator and later became a licensed PI. She's got a smart mouth and a wicked sense of humor, but the tone can be darker than some other mystery series.

At 6' 1" Carlotta Carlyle (Linda Barnes) is a force to be reckoned with. She doesn't shy away from violence and is motivated to seek justice and protect the innocent. A former cop and a sometimes cab driver, she finds release from her anger and depression with volleyball and the steel guitar.

Amateur detective and sculptor Sam Jones is young, hip and sexy. This series by Lauren Hendersen is a little lighter in the mystery aspect and heavier in its description of the modern art scene. And oh yes, she's flawed too. Alcohol and cocaine may be amongst a few of her indulgences, but her heart is big. Fans of Stephanie Plum will enjoy Jones and her sauciness.

Hazel Micallef has a number of challenges to overcome. This Canadian police officer is divorced, a recovering alcoholic and sixty one years of age. The author, Inger Ashe Wolfe, is a pseudonym for someone who we know only as a prominent literary author. S/he apparently chose to do this so the crime novels would be judged solely on their own merit. And they have been judged well, by all accounts. Library Journal referred to The Calling as "an excellent literary thriller, both riveting and precise".


  1. I was reading an article recently that interviewed Kathy Reichs. Apparently, with he blessing, the television version of her character, Temperance Brennan, is portrayed in as a younger version of the character in the book, but set in today's time. So, many of the things that helped form the character as we know her in the book haven't happened yet. Who knows, if the series on TV runs long enough, perhaps she'll turn into the book version of herself.
    The artle can be read at Booklist Online, the Aug. 25, 2009 issue.

  2. Kathy herself also explains the premise of the show - as the "pre-book" Temperance - on her website (

    However, there are also books being released that have been based on the show. So readers can now get a taste of both versions of Temperance, though I have yet to read the books myself I have heard good things about them.

  3. I've read both of the books by Inger Ashe Wolfe. The author can write, no doubt about it! And they are a more or less fun read. What keeps me from rating these a 5 star, so to speak, is that they are a little absurd in the plot...and get more bizarre as they go along. I'd like to see a more mature theme and less "theatrical gimmicks" to the plots...something more believable.