As any one who has read my own work might guess, I enjoy historical mysteries with a strong female protagonist who is working. And, therefore, it is no surprise how delighted I was when I found M. Ruth Myer’s mystery series featuring Maggie Sullivan, a sassy female detective.
I initially gave the first book in Myer’s series, No Game for a Dame, a try because I am a fan of the hard-boiled detective mysteries of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett that are set in the 1930s and 1940s. And boy, am I glad I did. What fun it was to see the classic themes of this genre played out with a female private eye, in a book that stayed absolutely faithful to the historical time and place, late 1930’s Dayton, Ohio.
In No Game for a Dame Myers did a lovely job of developing the classic uneasy relationship between a private detective (in this case Maggie Sullivan) and the local police. But she has woven in the added element of paternalism on the part of those older Irish cops in their treatment of the daughter of one of their former colleagues. Myers also carried through this gendered take on the genre by having Maggie use women, who were scrabbling for a way to make a living in the depths of the Great Depression, as her major sources of information in pursuing her investigation into a string of robberies.
The mystery in No Game for a Dame was compelling, the secondary characters fully developed, and the possible romance between Maggie and one of those Irish cops was just enough to make me want more.
Which is why I was delighted when the next book in the series, Tough Cookie came out. In this sequel, Maggie Sullivan starts out with a missing person case that turns quickly to murder, and I was again swept away to the late 1930s mean streets of Dayton, Ohio.
Tough Cookie (which can be read as a stand alone) has all the elements you look for in a hard-boiled mystery: good old-fashioned detective footwork, a wealthy client, a ditzy dame, loyal servants, smooth-talking lotharios, hard liquor bottles in the desk drawer, fast cars, and gun-play. I couldn’t put the book down, and while I guessed “who done it,” I didn’t care, because I was having so much fun, right down to the end that totally surprised me. Needless to say I am looking forward to the next book in the series.
For more about M. Ruth Myers and her other works of fiction, please check at HFeBooks.com. And, as an extra benefit, No Game for a Dame will be free on Kindle April 12-14.
3 Replies to “Review of No Game for a Dame and Tough Cookie: A Gendered Twist on the Classic Detective Genre”
Louisa, I enjoy your books and I am sure I will enjoy this one. I thought you might like to see the error in your email. It confused me and I thought is it No Game … or No Dame…I thought it was funny that I got to edit your writing. No offense, just a smile on my part! Margie BTW…I live nea SF, just thought I would mention it since I know your books are set there.
” For more about M. Ruth Myers and her other works of fiction, please check at HFeBooks.com. And, as an extra benefit, No Dame for a Gamewill be free on Kindle April 12-14.
Sent from my iPad
Thanks for the correction. Color me embarrassed, but thanks for the heads up so I could change it.
Glad you are enjoying my books–and I will do a mental wave when I am in SF this weekend.
We must connect mentally as yet again I have this in my backlog of books.