Girl Detective Names: Trixie, Theolinda, Thursday and Tuppence

Hear the words ‘detective’ or ‘private eye,’ and you probably picture a tough guy like Mickey Spillane or a cooler customer like Sam Spade.  But it turns out that mystery fiction also features a lot more female sleuths than you might think, dating back to Loveday Brooke in the 1890s and coming right up to today.

It’s interesting to note how many of these earlier crime-solvers were given “ladylike” professions as covers—either as antique dealers or esoteric academics –or the more modern wedding planners or pet sitters.  It wasn’t—for the most part—till the TV era, that they would become career private or police investigators.

One thing that they do have in common though is some pretty fantastic first names, and here are some of the best.

Adelia Aguilar is a medieval forensic specialist in a series of novels by British crime writer “Ariana Franklin, alias Diana Norman.

Amelia Peabody is an archaeologist/detective created by Elizabeth Peters, Amelia Butterworth  a nosy high-society lady with lots of free time for crime solving, created by Anna Katharine Green

Bertha Cool–(a name that’s a contradiction in terms?)— is an older, overweight private investigator in a series of books by A. A. Fair –a pseudonym of Erle Stanley Gardner.

Carnegie Kincaid — a crime-solving Seattle wedding planner in a series by Deborah Donnelly.

China Bayles—an herbalist and ex-lawyer detective created by Susan Wittig Albert.

Clio Browne—the first black female detective, in stories written by Dolores Komo.

Cordelia Gray—Serious and shy, this P.D. James character makes an unlikely private eye when she inherits a detective agency.

Dixie Hemingway — an ex-policewoman and pet sitter in Sarasota Florida in a series by Blaize Clement.

Doran Fairweather – an antique dealer/amateur detective in a series of books by British novelist Mollie Hardwick.

Hildegarde Withers — a tweedy, snoopy, schoolmarm created by Stuart Palmer.

Honey West — one of the first TV female PIs, described as a cross between Mike Hammer and Marilyn Monroe.

Jemima Shore—an investigative journalist and amateur detective created by the Irish historian/novelist Antonia Fraser.

Kinsey Milhone—a private investigator and former policewoman whose unusual first name was her mother’s maiden name, created by Sue Grafton for her ‘alphabet’ mystery series.

Lisbeth Salander — a computer hacker and private investigator in the mega popular Millennium Trilogy by Swedish journalist and novelist Stieg Larsson.

Loveday Brooke — an early “lady detective” appearing in short stories by Catherine Louisa Pirkis beginning in 1894.

Maud Silver–a retired governess and amateur sleuth a la Miss Marple, by Patricia Wentworth.

Precious Ramotswe — the charming and clever first female private investigator in Botswana, created by Alexander McCall Smith.

Seychelles Sullivan— a salvage tug boat captain operating out of Ft.Lauderdale, in a contemporary series by Christine Kling.  An interesting place name we haven’t heard before.

Temperance Brennan — the exceptionally named TV anthropologist and forensic specialist seen on the TV show Bones.

Temple Barr — a PR consultant and amateur detective in the Midnight Louie series by Carole Nelson Douglas.

Theolinda “Dol” Bonner– a private detective in several Nero Wolfe mysteries created by Rex Stout.

Thursday Next (daughter of Wednesday Next) —  the heroine of a series that forms a genre unto itself—a mix of mystery, fantasy and parody by Jasper Fforde.

Trixie Belden is a junior Nancy Drew, a girl-detective who, with a friend, solves mysteries that baffle authorities, starting in 1948.

Tuppence Beresford solves crimes with her husband Tommy in a series of novels and short-stories by Agatha Christie beginning in 1922.

Verity Birdwood– a TV researcher who solves murders in six books by Australian Jennifer Rowe

Victoria Iphigenia Warshawski– a former police officer created by Sara Paretsky, is usually known as Vic—but it’s her middle name that we really love.

Violet Strange — a debutante with a secret life as a sleuth, by Anna Katharine Green, one of the first American writers of detective fiction.

Can you think of any other lady detectives with distinctive first names?

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24 Responses to “Girl Detective Names: Trixie, Theolinda, Thursday and Tuppence”

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lisaoski Says:

September 6th, 2012 at 12:11 am

Nancy Drew of course! She was my favorite growing up, I still have a bunch of Nancy Drew books

Abby Says:

September 6th, 2012 at 4:27 am

Love this list! There’s also the Maisie Dobbs series, set after World War I in England.

aunt_ning Says:

September 6th, 2012 at 6:48 am

Cherry Ames was also a detective of sorts. She was a nurse who solved crimes. Love those books.

sophiekihm Says:

September 6th, 2012 at 7:19 am

Theodosia is a girl detective from a young adult novel

Pansy Says:

September 6th, 2012 at 8:57 am

Tuppence Beresford’s first name is actually Prudence. Tuppence is her nickname.

kewitzler Says:

September 6th, 2012 at 9:00 am

My current fave girl detective is eleven year old Flavia de Luce; heroine of 4 books by Alan Bradley.

peach25 Says:

September 6th, 2012 at 9:25 am

Tess Monaghan in Laura Lippman novels, Stephanie Plum in Janet Evanovitich series,Daisy Dalrymple in Carola Dunn books, Lindsey Fox in Caroline Cousins trilogy,Gemma James in Deborah Crombie series, Cassie Maddox in Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad

LexieM Says:

September 6th, 2012 at 9:39 am

I was going to say what @Pansy said. Tuppence can refer to two pence (or pennies) or coinage that is usually given to the poor as alms. Though there is an British Actress Tuppence Middleton who was born in 1987.

JoanneL Says:

September 6th, 2012 at 9:58 am

I loved Trixie Belden and Tuppence (although perhaps there’s something a teensy bit degrading in that one?) and of course Nancy Drew. I love the name Maisie, too. I went with Isobel Spice for my series heroine. I actual started with the last name, which I stole from a friend, and worked backwards!

Pansy Says:

September 6th, 2012 at 10:00 am

Oh and don’t forget the wonderful Jane Marple, the creation of Agatha Christie and probably the most famous lady detective of them all!

author in writing Says:

September 6th, 2012 at 11:49 am

Ariadne Oliver!

Rennie Says:

September 6th, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Aurora Teagarden and Lily Bard, both from Charlaine Harris mystery novels, MacLaren Yarbrough in the Thoroughly Southern series by Patricia Sprinkle, Sister Frevisse and Fidelma of Cashel in novels by Margaret Frazer and Peter Tremayne, Mary Russell Holmes aka Mrs. Sherlock Holmes in Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series, Mary Minor Haristeen aka “Harry” in the Mrs. Murphy mysteries by Rita Mae Brown, Penelope Warren in the “Big Mike” mysteries by Garrison Allen, Ali Reynolds and Joanna Brady both from J.A. Jance.

Kyri Laina Says:

September 6th, 2012 at 3:19 pm

I’m thinking Veronica Mars from the TV show Veronica Mars that ran for three seasons. She’s one of the reasons I love the name Veronica.

linda Says:

September 6th, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Some great ones here–thanks. I knew Tuppence was a nickname but I just couldn’t resist!

encore Says:

September 6th, 2012 at 8:47 pm

I always loved the Sammy Keys series in middle school

Emma_lane Says:

September 6th, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Georgia Fayne (otherwise known as George) Nancy Drew’s sidekick! and Bess too!

shinysarah11 Says:

September 7th, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Agatha Raisin is a delightful English sleuth with her own series of mysteries by M.C. Beaton, that is highly recommended for easy mindless reading.

Also, I’ve just read another mystery featuring the tales of a set of twin detectives, Honoria (F) and Deveraux (M), nicknamed Twinks and Blotto, set in the 1920’s. I personally love love love Honoria and the book, by Simon Brett, is hilarious!!!

MeleriHaf Says:

September 7th, 2012 at 6:42 pm

I like Harriet Vane from the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy Sayers. Strong character, great name!

Lucky Lindy Says:

September 8th, 2012 at 3:05 pm

I am thrilled to see the Thursday Next series listed! Name lovers, you are sure to get a giggle or two if you take time to read the series, the author knows how to have fun naming his characters!

UniqueNameLover Says:

September 9th, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Never knew that there was a detective named Cordelia! Cordelia tops my list. I also have Violet for a middle name.

Jemima is one I would strongly discourage using.

kendar416 Says:

September 18th, 2012 at 8:02 pm

I remember seeing the word “Seychelles” on a map as a kid, maybe 8 or 9 years old, and thinking “Wow, that would be a pretty name!” 🙂 How funny to hear it considered that way on this list. I always enjoy the creative name categories you guys come up with.

sylvia82 Says:

September 26th, 2012 at 9:35 am

Jessica Fletcher, of Murder She Wrote! I loved Murder She Wrote.

ScarlettSensibility Says:

October 23rd, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie of Glen Garry and Rannoch, in the Her Royal Spyness mysteries by Rhys Bowen!

dannilynnalexis Says:

June 4th, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Eve Dallas of the In Death series by J.D. Robb

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