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9 Detective Fiction Books Featuring Female Investigators 

From amateur sleuths to small-town sheriffs, these fierce females are on the case. 

miss kopp

Page-turning mystery novels never get old. The same goes for sleuthing female detectives. Throughout history, some of our favorite detectives in literature have been women—from the amateur investigating of Nancy Drew to the fabulous Miss Fisher. 

The female investigators that grace the pages of the following nine detective fiction books are no exception. Included are a governess-turned-detective who investigates London crime, a New Jersey sheriff hell-bent on getting justice for all, and more. There’s something for everyone within the pages of these detective stories. 

Constance Kopp

female investigators

Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit

By Amy Stewart

Now a New Jersey deputy sheriff, Constance Kopp is once again tested when an inmate tries to escape while being transported and Kopp is accused of not being able to handle her job. At the same time, the officer investigates the case of Anna Kayser—a woman who has been committed to an insane asylum by her husband—but Kopp thinks there's something sinister afoot. Set in the 1910s, mystery, historical events, and the fight for women’s rights all come into play in the fourth book in this exciting detective series. 

Miss Maud Silver

Grey Mask

Grey Mask

By Patricia Wentworth

In the first book in this beloved detective series, Miss Maud Silver—a former governess—is called upon to investigate a sinister plot to murder a wealthy heiress and steal her fortune. When Charles Moray reappears in England, following four years exploring the jungles of India and South America, he's startled to overhear a murderous plot at his family's manor. What's even more alarming? It sounds like his ex-fiancée is involved. But Miss Silver is on the case for the first time in this 32-book series by beloved mystery author Patricia Wentworth.  

Amelia Peabody

The Deeds of the Disturber

The Deeds of the Disturber

By Elizabeth Peters

Part Egyptologist, part sleuth, Amelia Peabody is once again called to investigate a murder—this time, one that takes place at the British Museum. Though she has her doubts that it was a mummy’s curse that caused the death, Amelia delves deeper into the case and enters the dark and seedy underground of London. 

Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody mystery series spans 20 books, most of which take place in Egypt. Throughout the series, Amelia meets Radcliffe Emerson. The two marry and have a son, Ramsey. Often appearing together to investigate, the family—along with Amelia's friend Evelyn, and her husband Walter (who happens to be Radcliffe's brother)—travels around the world solving crime after crime. 

Tish Ballard 

Bones and Roses

Bones and Roses

By Eileen Goudge

Tish Ballard isn’t your typical sleuth. Owner of a property management company in beach town of Cypress Bay, California, Tish is thrust into an investigation when she discovers skeletal remains and an unsolved mystery. When Tish takes the investigation into her own hands—and ends up at odds with the lead detective on the case, her high school crush Spence Breedlove—she opens a dark window to the past. 

Hazel Micallef

A Door in the River

A Door in the River

By Inger Ash Wolfe

Sixty-something police chief Hazel Micallef isn’t particularly “likable” and seems to make more enemies than friends wherever she goes. When a well-known man in her Ontario community winds up dead in a parking lot—apparently dying from a bee sting—Hazel doesn’t buy it…and sets off to solve what she believes to be a homicide. Hazel is a strong, driven character in Inger Ash Wolfe’s four-book series. Though it may take a moment to warm up to her, Hazel fights for what she believes in—even if it’s not protocol. 

Arly Hanks

Malice in Maggody

Malice in Maggody

By Joan Hess

The first book in Joan Hess’ Arly Hanks series introduces us to Ariel, Arly—for short. Arly has recently been hired as the police chief in Maggody, Arkansas, a fictional small-town that serves as the ideal spot for this 16-book series. Maggody is usually pretty tame—as far as crime goes—but when a Texas EPA fellow disappears from town, Arly is thrown into a missing persons case. And when someone else winds up dead, Arly realizes that this case isn’t going to be a simple one. 

Kinsey Millhone

detective fiction

“A” is for Alibi

By Sue Grafton

In Santa Teresa, California, Kinsey Millhone has just set up her own detective agency. With a soft-spot for “lost causes,” she’s agreed to take on Nikki Fife’s case—a woman who was convicted of killing her husband eight years ago and was just released on parole. Nikki says she didn’t do it, and needs Kinsey’s help to find the real killer. The 25-book series, which uses each letter of the alphabet for its titles, will remain unfinished. Grafton died after publishing Y is for Yesterday in 2017, and her family decided not to complete the final book in the series, Z is for Zero. 

Precious Ramotswe

detective fiction

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

By Alexander McCall Smith

Another long-standing series, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series currently has 18 books—with a 19th to be released later this year. In the first book in the series, we meet Precious Ramotswe—and she’s just opened the only detective agency run by a woman in Botswana. Precious’ detective skills are in high demand, but when an 11-year-old boy goes missing, she’s very affected by it.  More than just a straightforward detective, Precious’ goal is to help people and make her community a better place—which she does throughout the series. 

Eve Dallas 

detective fiction

Naked in Death

By J.D. Robb

Different from the other books on this list, J.D. Robb’s In Death series takes place in the future—beginning in 2058. Set in New York City, the first book in the series follows detective Eve Dallas as she investigates the murder of a senator’s daughter—who led a secret life as a prostitute. As Eve is drawn into the high-stakes world of politics, she is also drawn to the devastatingly handsome Roarke. One of the wealthiest men in the world, he also happens to be a prime suspect in the case…

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