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Top Female Sleuths of 2019

Female cops, investigators, and PIs have it rough. Ask any of ‘em, and they’ll tell about it in the same breath they reassure you the boys really are no match, regardless of what some of us might think. So, this month I wanted to celebrate and shine a bright and deserved light on the female investigators, DIs, and sleuths that keep us up late into the night. Here, in no particular order, are some of the best and most capable investigators well worth your time and treasure.

Mercy Kilpatrick: A Merciful Promise by Kendra Elliot, June 2019.

When the FBI needed an agent to infiltrate an Oregon militia that’s amassing illegal firearms in an isolated mountain town, it turned to Mercy Kilpatrick. Raised in the same area among survivalists, she’s the ideal candidate and well knows the fanatical paradigm.

Once on the inside, her next job is to simply blend in: lay low, follow rules, do nothing to sound an alarm, and relinquish all contact with the outside world. But something foreboding emerges for Mercy’s fiancé at the same time she disappears into winter hills: Eagle’s Nest police chief Truman Daly investigates a puzzling series of murders after three men are executed and seemingly dumped at random. 

Meanwhile, Mercy is trapped in a culture where suspicion is second nature and betrayal is the gravest sin. Absent all contact with the outside world and no way to escape the militia’s sequestered compound, Mercy uncovers plans to commit a catastrophic act of domestic terrorism. Undercover and alone, she resolves to stop the militia at all costs, even if that requires her own life.

Faith McClellan: Leave No Stone by LynDee Walker, November 2019.

Lyndee writes several fantastic series with strong female protagonists, but her next page-turning release will be in this series.

Shortly after the mysterious disappearance of a young mother, an unidentified serial killer begins scattering victims’ bodies and evidence across the Texas Hill Country. Texas Ranger Faith McClellan and her mentor, veteran Ranger Archie Baxter, are assigned to the case.

Up against the most clever and sadistic killer she’s ever faced, the list of seemingly random female victims grows by the day. Soon, an attorney, a pastor, and a stay-at- home mom are each murdered; their ring finger is missing, and each corpse shows severe head trauma and a cryptic message carved into its body. The savvy killer’s gruesome calling cards prompt more questions than answers and prevent the best coroner in the state from identifying the murder weapon. The young mother is still missing, and Faith fears she knows how the woman will be found. 

With little evidence in their favor, Faith and Archie race to stop the next murder but find themselves flying blind into the serial killer’s abyss – perhaps right where he
wants them.

Josie Quinn: Her Silent Cry by Lisa Regan, August 2019.

When seven-year-old Lucy Ross goes missing from a carousel in Denton city park, Detective Josie Quinn joins the frantic search. She soon finds Lucy’s sparkly butterfly backpack abandoned by the ticket booth and the note and its devastating message stuffed inside: Answer your phone, or your sweet little darling will die.

The next day, Lucy’s parents answer a call from their babysitter’s phone, only to hear a chilling male voice. By the time Josie can race to the babysitter’s small apartment, her lifeless body is tangled in her bedsheets. As more people connected to Lucy are murdered and their deaths announced by similar calls to Lucy’s parents, Josie’s facing the most high-stakes case of her career. This twisted killer wants revenge, and he won’t stop until the entire Ross family is in pieces. Josie believes Lucy’s parents aren’t giving her the whole truth, but digging deeper into their lives will force her to confront a life-changing secret of her own. 

Is Josie willing to sacrifice herself to solve this case, knowing that if she fails, Lucy may never come home alive?

Macy Crow: Hide and Seek by Mary Burton, April 2019.

Special Agent Macy Crow is a survivor. After a vicious hit-and-run crash nearly kills her, she goes back to work, doubles down, and sets her sights on a spot among the FBI’s elite profiling team. As an audition, she offers to investigate the recently discovered bones of Tobi Turner, a high school girl who disappeared fifteen years ago.

While working alongside local sheriff Mike Nevada, a former colleague and onetime lover, Macy soon realizes Tobi’s case is linked to several others. She interviews old victims, reopens their cold cases, and quickly recognizes the work of a sinister stalker who graduated to sexual assault and murder. Macy and Nevada race to identify this monster and put hands on him before he again comes out of hiding. Over the last fifteen years, every drop of blood he spilled further honed his skills at hunting prey and avoiding capture, so she’ll have to be at her very best to save his next victim. 

Even though Macy’s no stranger to pain and terror, her first official profiling case may well end up being her last.

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Violet Darger: Five Days Post Mortem by LT Vargus & Tim McBain, January 2019.

When two fishermen discover a corpse floating in the Clackamas river, profiler Violet Darger heads to rural Oregon to hunt another serial killer. This is the first case she’s worked alone, and what Darger soon discovers in the woods might change the course of her life.

The girl in the water marks the third such case in the area -- all drowned with superficial stab wounds and discovered in a body of water -- and Darger knows she won't be the last. Even though the corpses are badly decomposed and offer little forensic evidence, every victim shares at least one thing in common: all were discovered roughly five days post mortem. Darger suspects the timeline is significant, but she can only guess why. She realized the key to stopping this serial killer is learning what happened to the victims during their four days of captivity. 

In this case, Darger is tested like never before, and she questions whether she can find the suspect in time to stop him from killing again.

Morgan Dane: Save Your Breath by Melinda Leigh, September 17, 2019.

When true-crime writer Olivia Cruz disappears with no signs of foul play, her new boyfriend, Lincoln Sharp, suspects the worst. He knows she didn’t leave willingly and turns to attorney Morgan Dane and PI Lance Kruger to find her before it’s too late.

As they dig through Olivia’s life, they are shocked to discover a connection between her current book research on two cold murder cases and the suicide of one of Morgan’s prospective clients. The investigators face a growing list of suspects while racing against the clock find Olivia alive. 

When danger comes for them, Morgan and Lance realize they may be the killer’s next targets.

Lacy Sherlock: Labyrinth by Catherine Coulter, July 2019.

On a Tuesday afternoon, Agent Sherlock is driving in downtown Washington when her Volvo is suddenly T-boned at an intersection. When she finally regains consciousness in the hospital, she’s told about the accident and that her car struck a now-missing and unidentified bystander. DNA collected from Lacy’s windshield reveals the missing man is Justice Cummings, a CIA analyst who hasn’t been showing up to work.

Meanwhile, in the small town of Gaffer’s Ridge, Virginia, Special Agent Griffin Hammersmith rescues a kidnapped woman who claims her captor murdered three missing teenage girls. However, the man she accuses is the local sheriff’s nephew and a member of a very powerful family reputed to have psychic powers. 

When the sheriff arrests Griffin and the rescued woman, Carson DaSilva, he calls Lacy’s husband, FBI Special Agent Dillon Savich for help. Together they have to weave their way through a labyrinth of lies to find the truth of a terrible secret. While her husband attempts to work both cases, Lacy risks losing her distinguished career—and her sanity—over a Missing Persons case that is more complicated and twisted than any she’s ever encountered.

D.D. Warren & Flora Dane: Never Tell by Lisa Gardner, February 2019.

When Conrad Carter is killed by three gun shots in his home office, cops arrive to find his computer’s been shot twelve times and his pregnant widow is holding the gun. Boston PD Detective D.D. Warren arrives on-scene and recognizes the woman--Evie Carter--from an old case: her father died in a suspicious shooting that was later ruled an accident. For D.D., two coincidental murders are too many. 

Flora Dane, a victim-turned-vigilante, sees Conrad’s murder on the TV news and she immediately recognizes his picture. Memories of one particular night in captivity come bursting forth, and Flora’s consumed with regret. Her captor knew Conrad Carter, and she had intended to track him down after she escaped but had never done so. 

In the wake of his apparent murder, she’s now left to piece together the facts of his life and death. D.D. and Flora both soon realize truth is a devilishly elusive thing. As they peel away layer after layer of half-truths and outright lies, both women wonder how one family can keep so many secrets.

Lindsey Boxer & the Women’s Murder Club: 19th Christmas by James PattersonMaxine Paetro

As the holidays approach, Detective Lindsay Boxer and her friends in the Women's Murder Club have much to celebrate. Crime is down, the medical examiner's office is quiet, and the news cycle is so slow that journalist Cindy Thomas is assigned to tell San Franciscans the season’s true meaning. All that ends when a fearsome criminal known only as "Loman" seizes control of the headlines with a deadly surprise planned for Christmas morning.

To conceal his true objective, he’s commissioned dozens of criminal colleagues to keep the patrol cops and detectives confused, busy, and distracted. All that Lindsay and the SFPD can figure out is that Loman's greed for riches, bloodshed, and attention is limitless. 

Crimes are never solved on a schedule, but as this nefarious mastermind and his cohorts unleash credible threats by the hour, the month of December is upended for the Women's Murder Club. If they can stop whatever tragedy Loman has in store for their city, they’ll have truly witnessed a holiday miracle.

Eve Dallas: Golden in Death by JD Robb, October 2019.

Homicide detective Eve Dallas is called to investigate a murder with a mysterious motive—and a terrifying weapon. When local pediatrician Kent Abner received a delivery that beautiful April morning, he found only a cheap trinket inside, a golden egg that opened into two halves. As he forced it apart, Abner breathed in toxic fumes that quickly killed him threatened the unsuspecting investigators who soon arrived on-scene.

As hazmat teams work to assess the detectives’ health, Eve starts digging into Dr. Abner’s past. She knows crime victims are seldom angels and saints, but Abner’s only sin appears to have been making enemies by standing up for those who couldn’t defend themselves. While the forensics lab struggles to identify the unknown toxin, Eve is forced to press forward into the darkness to find the killer. When a second victim falls victim to the same fate, everyone’s worst fears are confirmed. 

Eve and her team race to find a connection between the seemingly random victims and identify the killer before he strikes again. Can they stop an aspiring serial killer from becoming a mass murderer?

THRILLERFIX ALL-STAR REVIEWER: A former law enforcement officer, Gavin Reese wrote his first six crime thrillers between patrol shifts. An author, thriller aficionado, and podcast host, Gavin has interviewed some of the top names in the genre.  If you enjoy novels with authentic cops, crimes, and criminals, you'll want to follow Gavin Reese's book recommendations here on the Thrillerfix blog.

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