International Women’s Day: Crime Stories We Love with Women at the Helm

Happy International Women’s Day, Agora readers!


As an all-female team who publish some pretty wonderful women, every day is a celebration of women and their stories. But as its Women’s History Month in the UK — and IWD today! — and because we tend to relate everything back to our favourite books, we’ll seize the opportunity to cheer a little louder.

We’ve been in a very crime fiction mood recently, between publishing Thicker Than Water and Death of a Doll, so today, let’s celebrate some of our favourite crime stories with women at the helm.


Nancy Drew

Nancy Drew was created in 1930 as a counterpart to the successful Hardy Boys Series, but, girl, did she hold her own. Her creation and popularity helped nudge other female detective series into fruition, and her own lasted an amazing 175 titles with multiple spin offs. Her admirers range from Barbara Streisand to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, so it’s not an exaggeration to say that Nancy Drew inspired many women into ‘unconventional’ roles and to pursue their passions. We love female characters who are driven, inquisitive and stand their ground in a room full of men, all of which Nancy thrives at, which makes her one of our female crime favourites. Also, shout out to the Nancy Drew Girl Detective series, because Nancy scooting around in a hybrid car and solving crimes on her cell phone is a stylish and eco-friendly symbol of both the adaptability and the timelessness of the female spirit.


Thicker Than Water by Jean Saunders

Not-so-shameless plug, here, but we’re just so excited to have our very own female detective, Alexandra Best, from our recently published Jean Saunders title, Thicker Than Water. She’s skeptical in all the right places, driven to a deadline, and, unabashedly, not afraid to have a good time. We love a woman who knows what she wants and, more importantly, gets what she wants. Our girl Alexandra drives a fast-paced story and solves a mean missing persons case, and we’re so happy to have her on our list.


The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Believe it or not, we do occasionally take our heads out of classic crime and dive into the contemporary best sellers. The Girl on the Train has been in everyone’s hands and on everyone’s screen for the past few years, and while this story doesn’t immediately scream female empowerment, the end (as twisted as it gets) is a big show of what can be done when women finally work together. The Girl on the Train tackles a big story of abuse, from emotional to physical to substance, and just when you think you can’t bear any more lies and confusion, you’re left throwing a fist into the air for Rachel and Anna’s freedom that they had to work together to find.


4.50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie

What feminist list of crime stories is complete without an appearance from the Dame? Complete with another train reference, we offer up 4.50 from Paddington which is pushed along by Christie’s fantastic leading lady, Miss Marple. I’m sure it would be preaching to the choir to tell you the path that Christie forged not just for female crime writers, but for all female writers. We’re grateful for this Queen of Crime who can weave a mystery like no other, and for her marvelous amateur detective who is unapologetically intelligent and intuitive and manages to be completely logical while still engaging in a respectable amount hijinks through her ridiculous methods (voluntarily choking on a fish sandwich to solve a crime is truly a ‘who thinks of that?’ moment).


I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

Perhaps we’re going a bit rogue here, but we think Michelle McNamara is a completely valid reason to throw a little true crime on the list. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is not about women, in theory; but what started out as an investigation into one of the most heinous serial killers has become an inspiration for what it means for women to dive into their passion — no matter how taboo — wholeheartedly. Through her research, McNamara coined the term that authorities began to use in their investigations, ‘Golden State Killer’, which many believe to be proof of McNamara’s influence on the investigation that eventually resulted in the arrest of the killer. She opened the eyes of many to the fascinating world of true crime, brought attention to community that was terrified by the Golden State Killer, and has continued to be a shining voice for women seeking justice well after her death.


As always, thank you for reading, and be sure to tweet us @AgoraBooksLDN with your favourite female-focused crime story!