Murder With Southern Hospitality:
An Exhibition of Mississippi Mysteries

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Female Detectives

 
Modern Southern Females
Detectives and Their Authors

Historians generally date the first mystery novel written by an American woman to the year 1866. The Dead Letter by Mrs. Metta Victoria Fuller Victor features the character Richard Redfield and a mysterious letter found in the New York dead letter office. The letter leads Redfield into the world of policemen and hired assassins and ends with Redfield exposing the murderer and rescuing his ladylove. From these distinctly melodramatic beginnings the history of women mystery authors in America evolved. By the 1970s women detective novels had established a hold on the genre in earnest with the mass success of authors such as Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton. Other subgenres of the mystery market: the police procedurals, the thriller, the “cozy” became fair game for women authors. Julie Smith, Nevada Barr, and Carolyn Haines all trace their heritage from the early days of American female mystery writers.

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