Book: Mystery Women: An Encyclopedia of Leading Women Characters in Mystery Fiction Volume III (1990-1999)

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Book:

Mystery Women: An Encyclopedia of Leading Women Characters in Mystery Fiction Volume III (1990-1999)

Author: Colleen Barnett
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Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

“Mystery Women, Volume 3” is an encyclopedia of leading women characters in mystery fiction introduced during the years 1990-1999. It was preceded by “Mystery Women 1 (1860-1979)” and “Mystery Women 2 (1980-1989)”. In each of the three books, the protagonists are described as to appearance, education and career, family status, religious and political interests. There are short reviews of the books in which each appeared. The series was intended not only as a resource for mystery fans,librarians and booksellers, but as a reflection of the way in which women were portrayed in the mystery novel over a period of 150 years. Initially women were victims or villianesses. Success by early sleuths was often based on “intuition” rather than intelligence. Parallels are drawn between the fictional status of women and that which existed in the real world at that time. The impact of world and national events; i.e. World War I and II, the Depression, the Equal Employment!

Opportunity Act, the Civil Rights Movement, are noted. Plots in later narratives often focus on issues of particular interest to women, such as child and spousal abuse, the difficulty in balancing career and family life, and special problems faced by women in minority groups.

The focus is on the characters rather than the authors of the books. The positive changes in women’s status is noted, but so are some of the negative aspects of the changes.

Volume 3 covered more than 580 series and was printed in two separate books.

Volume 2 was nominated for an Agatha Award for non-fiction published in 2002. Volume 3 has been nominated for both an Edgar and an Agatha for non-fiction published in 2003.

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