‘Private Inquiries is a must-read – a riveting mythbuster, with its revelations of the real histories of women PIs.’ – Val McDermid
The female private detective has been a staple of popular culture for over 150 years, from Victorian lady sleuths to ‘busy-body spinsters’ and gun-toting modern PIs. But what about the real-life women behind these fictional tales?
Dismissed as ‘Mrs Sherlock Holmes’ or amateurish Miss Marples, mocked as private dicks or honey trappers, they have been investigating crime since the mid-nineteenth century – everything from theft and fraud to romance scams and murder.
In Private Inquiries, Caitlin Davies traces the history of the UK’s female investigators, uncovering the truth about their lives and careers from the 1850s to the present day. Women like Victorian private inquiry agent Antonia Moser, the first woman to open her own agency; Annette Kerner, who ran the Mayfair Detective Agency on Baker Street in the 1940s; and Liverpool sleuth Zena Scott-Archer, who became the first woman president of the World Association of Detectives. Caitlin also follows in the footsteps of her subjects, undertaking a professional qualification to become a Private Investigator, and meeting modern PIs to find out the reality behind the fictional image.
Female investigators are on the rise in the UK – and despite the industry’s sleazy reputation, nearly a third of new trainees are women. After a century of undercover work, it’s time to reveal the secrets of their trailblazing forebears.