Before the 1920s the few women detectives remained ladylike while solving crimes, and even when consciously independent — as in Wentworth, Christie and Mitchell, and to an extent Sayers, Eberhart and the Nancy Drew authors — they still operated within a masculine order. Historians like Jessica Mann (1981) and Patricia Craig and Mary Cadogan (1981) describe an increasing number of women sleuths in the decades after the Second World War, but they went no further in terms of gender critique than the forceful but still contained presence of Mitchell’s Bradley. The first woman detective who substantially interrogated the situation was herself no revolutionary, bearing the less than assertive name Cordelia Gray as well as P. D. James’s doubt-ridden title An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (1972).
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