Mysteries Every Thinking Woman Should Read

The age of the hardboiled sleuth and his bimbo sidekick is over! With a little help from Partners & Crime, we've found nine brilliant, believable female detectives.
The Eyre Affair (The Thursday Next Novels)

The Eyre Affair (The Thursday Next Novels)

400 pages; Penguin
Imagine a world where Shakespeare was as hot as Lady Gaga, where young boys swapped—not baseball cards—but Henry Fielding cards, and where an entire branch of the Special Forces was devoted to stopping a nefarious band of thieves from stealing the unpublished manuscript of Charles Dickens. Such is the world presented in Jasper Fforde's six novels, including the first, The Eyre Affair—the tale of a savvy government sleuth named Thursday Next who is pursuing a shape-shifting criminal who has murdered her partners as well as possibly stolen the character of Jane Eyre from the pages of Jane Eyre. The surrealist touches of the writing (examples: Airships are the preferred mode of transport; the English are still at war with Russia; Thursday's father can time-travel) will delight and surprise you, but it's the very earthbound struggles of Thursday that keep the book from being just an intellectual exercise. Thursday is like a lot of us: tough, smart, funny and a little damaged. She's lost a brother on the front line, and she fell in love with an amazing guy who disappoints her over and over, but for whom she still longs. Even in a parallel universe where so many people rename themselves in honor of the author of Paradise Lost that they have to register by number (John Milton 496, John Milton 497, John Milton 498), the everyday mysteries that still resonate—how do we let in the people we most want to let in, even as that voice in our head says, “Keep out!” or, in her case, “Drop your weapon!”?—Leigh Newman