Showing posts with label Delilah West. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Delilah West. Show all posts

Friday, October 28, 2016

Elizabeth Chase: One Female Private-Eye You May Or May Not Have Heard Of

Let’s talk about another female private investigator you may or may not have heard of. 
In 1995 author Martha C. Lawrence introduced readers to her female private investigator, Dr. Elizabeth Chase.  And Chase is anything but your conventional fictional private-eye.  She has an interesting hook serving her layers of profession.  What could that hook be?  Well, she’s an astrologer.  Or psychic/parapsychologist to expand the point. 
So basically Elizabeth Chase can get all Susan Miller on a murder investigation.  She can break down that pesky Mercury Retrograde phenomenal to, perhaps, unfurl the brain of the forgetful suspect.  All done to gather a clue, of course.  She can probably map out the Age of Aquarius, to see which suspect is likely to get his or her hands dirty in the business of killing.  Hell, maybe the dates of eclipses can help her stop a pre-mediated attempt at murder.
Who knows?
I’m more than positive that within the five books in the series, something extraordinary and uniquely flavored is going to happen.  Without (I’m certain) the author cheating both the readers and her protagonist.  I mean let’s get real, a book with a psychic detective ain’t worth beans if all she has to do is close her eyes to tap into her “source” for the answers.
No, no.  I’m sure it won’t be like that. 
Anyway, I’m kind of excited and ready to get started with what Martha Lawrence and her sleuth, Elizabeth Chase, are going to get into.  I have a feeling both are going to take me (and hopefully you) along mystery avenues hardly spoken of and far from traditional.  So–after having never heard of this author–this was the number one reason why I grabbed the first book in Lawrence’s series, Murder in Scorpio, the second I spotted it.  It's always why I value the good ole used bookstore circuits.  There’s so much to discover if you look.
For more on the author, visit her website at
Have you heard or read any of Martha Lawrence’s books?  Drop me a comment to whet my appetite on what I have to look out for in the future.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Delilah West: One Female Private-Eye You May Or May Not Have Heard Of

I have got to admit that I love female private-eye series pre the 2000’s.  And from the 70’s on into the early 90’s is where I often find the best stories.  Unless an author has established him or herself during those periods; post 2000 female private-eye series always seem to have this distracted flavor to them.  If I could put it into words, I would say there’s hard-boiled then there’s hard-boiled just to “look cute.“  Or, to be a lot more transparent, the rash of relationship drama and sex to maintain an audience tends to kill my vibe.  (Here’s to you Stephanie Plum.)  
Though I can’t speak on this with any totality of thought (if that makes sense).  Still, hardly have I experienced the whole “once to bed, twice is enough” experience in series built in the two decades following Maria Muller’s genre-shaking debut.  You know, of her 1977-birthing of female private-eye, Sharon McCone.  And Sharon was a great protagonist to flush in writers serving the world female-led hard-boiled stories during the 80’s and 90’s.  Of course without characters tip-toeing pass hotel wallpaper to slide into bed for a clue.  Usually with the unbeknownst killer.  
Muller gave writers a model of a female private-eye, and in turn, those writers served their special and unique versions of what translated as a woman detective carrying hard-boiled stories.  Plus, stories back then knew how to fill the pages with actual words–and procedural work.
But, incidentally, Marcia Muller's Sharon McCone wasn't the first contemporary American woman taking lead as a fictional private investigator.  Apparently, Maxine O'Callaghan's Delilah West came first.  Had it not been for a recent trip to a used bookstore, where I discovered West tucked in a stack, I never would've known.

As For Delilah West Herself
First, I have got to say that while researching O'Callaghan, I noticed she has newer reprints of her series.  And I have got to say I do not like the covers.  At all.  No shade to young adult books, but that’s precisely what the new covers of her Delilah West mystery books look like; some angst-filled YA book about vampires and love gone bloody.  Thank God I ran across her original paperback covers first.  And I’ll be sure to hunt for the original covers to this series here forward.  As dated as they may appear, it’s always best to keep to the classics in cases such as this.  I really, really can’t believe how awful the new covers are.

But I digress...
As I mentioned, the character of Delilah West pre-dates Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone.  West first appeared in a short story featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine back in 1974 (three years before McCone debuted with Edwin and the Iron Shoes).  I suppose the short story break sort of did a strange disservice O’Callaghan’s protagonist, as Muller’s Sharon rose to attention and commercial success three years later.  While continuing to publish yearly releases to this day.  

Nonetheless, Orange County resident and ex-cop private-eye, Delilah West, broke into her first full-length book in 1981 with Death is Forever.  From 1981 until 1997, O’Callaghan released six Delilah West mysteries and a short story collection.
I say it’s high-time we catch up with Delilah West and keep her in mind when we’re talking about the beginning of the contemporary female private-eye. 


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