About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

“F” is for Female Fictional Lawyers

For "F" in the Alphabet in Crime Fiction meme being hosted by Kerrie Smith at her blog, Mysteries in Paradise, I have chosen the topic of Female Fictional Lawyers.

After deciding on the topic I found a couple of academic articles.

The first was Legal Fictions and the Moral Imagination: Female Fictional Lawyers Encounter Professional Responsibility by Kathryn A. Lee and Elizabeth Morgan, , 10 Wm. & Mary J. Women & L. 569 (2004). It can be found online at  http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1153&context=wmjowl

The authors explain the article:

     This article examines eleven books by seven authors, depicting
     seven fictional lawyers. Authors Gini Hartzmark, Lia Matera,
     Barbara Parker and Carolyn Wheat have created female attorneys
     who appear in several books, allowing for more character
     development than occurs in most mystery novels.'

     All three authors are law school graduates, and two have        
     practiced, Parker as a prosecutor with a state attorney's 
     office and Wheat as a Legal Aid attorney in Brooklyn. Lisa
     Scottoline, a University of Pennsylvania law school graduate and
     former Philadelphia lawyer, has also written several legal thrillers.
     Two current prosecutors of sex crimes are also authors: Linda
     Fairstein and Christina McGuire.

While some parts of the article are dense academic language most of it is very accessible and interesting in its examination of how fictional women deal with legal ethical issues.

The second article was in law.arts.culture, a blog at the Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, where there was a post on Women Lawyers in Literature. It can be found at http://lawartscult.osgoode.yorku.ca/2012/09/women-lawyers-in-literature-in-anticipation-of-the-first-meeting-of-the-law-feminism-and-short-fiction-reading-group/#comments.  
In the post the author, Kate Sutherland, speaks about a dearth of women lawyers in literature. Discussing crime fiction she mentions:
    The first examples that occurred to me also come from this genre:
    Alafair Burke’s series featuring Portland Deputy DA Samantha
    Kincaid, Linda Fairstein’s series featuring Manhattan sex crimes
    prosecutor Alexandra Cooper, and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s series
    featuring Reykjavik lawyer Thóra Gudmundsdóttir.

The post goes on to discuss a trio of stories written by women involving female lawyers - Weight by Margaret Atwood, The Mother by Michele Martinez; and, His Sister by Ruthann Robson. (I have not read any of them.)

At the end of the article she mentions the additional female lawyers she has identfied:

     In addition to those mentioned above there is Ruth Puttermesser
     from Cynthia Ozick’s The Puttermesser Papers; Judge Josie Jo
     Ford from children’s classic The Westing Game; an array of
     compelling women law students, lawyers, and judges in Lowell
     B. Komie’s short stories; criminal lawyer Cass Jameson from
     Carolyn Wheat’s mystery series; the lawyers of all-female firm
     Rosato & Associates featured in Lisa Scottoline’s series of legal
     thrillers; and, barristers Selena Jardine and Julia Larwood from
     Sarah Caudwell’s series of legal whodunnits. Who else?

I was alittle surprised she had not identified more female lawyers in crime fiction. I have added a comment to the blog linking this post and advising there are a significant number of female lawyers in crime fiction which can be added to her list.

I have read the books involving the following female fictional lawyers who are not listed above:

1.) Defence counsel, Nancy Parrish, in Old City Hall and The Guilty Plea and Stray Bullets by Robert Rotenberg;
2.) Mickey Haller's ex-wife, Maggie "McFierce" McPherson is a prosecutor in The Lincoln Lawyer and The Brass Verdict and The Reversal  and The Fifth Witness (California) by Michael Connelly;

3.) Barclay Reid is the managing partner of a large Seattle law firm and the accused in Murder One (Seattle) by Robert Dugoni

 4.) Victoria Lord is a skilled trial attorney in Solomon v. Lord and The Deep Blue Goodbye and Kill All the Lawyers by Paul Levine

5.) Lily Belle Cleary is a quick thinking witty Florida lawyer in Bone Valley; and,

6.) Rebecka Martinsson is a Stockholm tax attorney in Sunstorm by Asa Larsson

On Tuesday I will add some reflections and observations on female fictional lawyers.


  1. Bill - What an interesting post! And thank you for sharing those articles. you're right too that there are a number of fictional attorneys out there, and I think they add an interesting and important perspective to cases. I will be looking forward to your discussion of them.

  2. Bill, I saw the title of your post first and took a few minutes to try to call to mind some fictional female lawyers with very little luck: Frances Fyfield's Helen West was the only one who came to mind. Clearly I don't read enough legal mysteries.

    This is a very interesting topic. Now that your post refreshes my memory... I do have one of the Lia Matera books that I can try. I have read one of the books in Lisa Scottoline’s series. And I have the Sarah Caudwell series to read.

  3. There's also Nina Reilly, attorney, featured in the series by sisters writing as Perri O'Shaughnessy.

    And a series featuring a woman attorney named Lucinda Hayes by Marianne Wesson. This took me a while to find as I'd forgotten the name of the author in this Colorado-based series. However, Stop! You're Killing Me has terrific indexes and I found this under the Law/Legal category.

    There are a lot more actually. The more I searched, the more I found but wasn't going to list any series I hadn't read.

    I love the genre of legal mysteries, and could spend every day reading these books unless I discipline myself to venture further into the crime fiction world.

  4. Bill, this is a very nice post. The only female fictional lawyer I can think of is "The Client" by John Grisham. I don't remember her name. I read the novel long before I saw the movie where her character is played by Susan Sarandon. Thank you for all the links.

  5. A great topic Bill and looks like some good suggestions for me to track down

    the only additional ones I can think of are

    Lily Forrester is a district attorney then a judge in Nancy Taylor Rosenberg's series of 4 novels starting with Mitigating Circumstances

    M.R. (Matthew) Hall has written several novels featuring Welsh Coroner Jenny Cooper (this is a legal position in the UK)

    and a novel I just reviewed for Fair Dinkum Crime called Harry Curry: The Murder Book by Stuart Littlemore has two lawyers at the centre of action, one of whom is a woman called Arabella Engineer. I liked the book a lot

    1. I have been racking my brain, trying to remember Nancy Taylor Rosenberg's name for days. Thank you for mentioning her and relieving me from the search! I haven't seen any new books by her in a good while.

    2. Thanks for the comment. I have not followed upon Rosenberg.

  6. Another one from Australia:
    Anne Stevens in Only Lawyers Dancing by Jan McKemmish, a very stylish, very Sydney crime novel.

  7. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. I did not think of Frances. I regret to say I have not read her books.

  8. Margot: Thanks for the comment. I admire the number of authors working to add the perspective of being a female in a legal situation

  9. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. I had not heard of Wesson. She sounds like an interesting writer. I enjoy legal mysteries but it is not difficult to ration myself. I just have to read some office files.

  10. Prashant: Thanks for the reminder of Reggie Love in the Client. I enjoyed the book and the movie.

  11. Bernadette: Thanks for the comment. You have added several good authors. Coroners have not been required to be lawyers in Canada but it is now rare to find one who is not a lawyer.

  12. Anonymous: Thanks for the comment. I had not heard of McKemmish.

  13. McKemmish isn't a crime writer strictly speaking, and her only other novel is a sort of post-modern feminist spy thriller. Great fun, actually - they both are. Since I posted this morning I've re-read half of this book and still like it very much. Not much has changed in twenty years in Sydney,or it's said, in two hundred.
    I wouldn't rush to read anything by Frances Fyfield, but need to mention that she has a second legal female character, Sarah Fortune.
    Also I can't post here under my name as I usually do - Anne H.

  14. Anne H.: Thanks for the comment and additional information on McKemmish.

    I was surprised you cannot post under your name. What happens when try to post under your name?

  15. i thought it needed a URL as well. Now I see it doesn't. These particular ones do vary. I would much rather be consistently myself. Thanks for that, Bill! Also for your interesting posts.

  16. Before I put the McKemmish book back on the shelves,this quote from it, some of my favourite lines in all crime fiction,may amuse you:
    'They look like a couple of gangsters to me,'I say,'but they're only lawyers dancing.'

  17. Anne H.: Thanks for the additional comment.

  18. You forgot Marlene Ciampi, the female lead in the Bob Tannenbaum Butch Karp series.

  19. It was wondering if I could use this write-up on my other website, I will link it back to your website though.Great Thanks. lemon law attorney los angeles

  20. I'm so glad you decided to review mysteries, and share your thoughts about Saskatchewan mysteries with your readers. It is difficult to find good Saskatchewan mysteries in the US, so I appreciate your work.
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