Sister Sleuths cover

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Some history books rehash familiar territory, and some tread entirely new, unexplored ground.  Nell Darby’s Sister Sleuths: Female Detectives in Britain is the latter.  Tapping into a rich but hidden vein of criminology history, Darby uncovers the true stories of professional female investigators from the Victorian age through the early 20th century.

More scholarly text than popular nonfiction, Darby’s work mines census data, newspaper reporting and advertising, and court records to follow the path of private detection as a career appealing to British women from the 1860s to the 1930s.  In short, bite-sized chapters divided by theme and chronology, Sister Sleuths tracks the evolution of the private investigation industry.  Working side-by-side with their male counterparts, female detectives brought particular skills (real or perceived) to the job.
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