The first Scottish fictional female detective, Valeria, created by Wilkie Collins, back in 1875, in his book titled The Law and the Lady was all about attacking the “Not Proven” verdict that still exists today in Scotland laws.
It is quite surprising Mairiuna, that Wilkie Collins had a great success with this book, because, in those times, women were not considered very highly, and certainly not enough to take leadership in any area of the society other than motherhood and related responsabilities, never mind having a woman investigating a crime !
Valeria and Eustace Woodville begin their marriage inauspiciously, when, on honeymoon at Ramsgate, Valeria discovers her husband’s true name is Macallan. As Eustace refuses to explain she confronts his mother who although sympathetic will also not answer her questions. Valeria becomes positively resolved…to discover the secret which the mother and son were hiding.
On returning to London, Valeria establishes that her marriage is legally valid. She also visits Eustace’s closest friend, Major Fitz-David. He knows the secret but is on his word of honour not to help its discovery. The Major, a modern Don Juan, is sympathetic to Valeria’s position and tacitly allows her to search his rooms. She finds a trial report revealing that Eustace was accused of poisoning his first wife Sarah at Gleninch, his Mid-Lothian house, and is tainted with the Scotch verdict of Not Proven. Valeria is now determined to find the proof of his innocence. Eustace, however, weakly runs away from his wife, going abroad alone.
Source: Wilkie-Collins.info © copyright Andrew Gasson 1998-2009
Nevertheless, Wilkie Collin’s great ability to create suspense operated with such magic that his book took readers beyond the “unconventional” aspect of its main character.
Down the same alley, another great Scottish crime fiction author, Alexander McCall Smith, gave life to a friendly African detective woman named Mma Precious Ramotswe, whose gentle approach to all cases made her known, loved and trusted in her community. She is in her mid-thirties, has two adopted children, a fiancé and a well established business.
Precious..what a nice name. Get ready to find some time to read Mairiuna, as this series will publish its 11th title very soon!
The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series:
1998 The no.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
2000 Tears of The Giraffe
2001 Morality for Beautiful Girls
2002 Kalahari Typing DSchool for Men
2003 The Full Cupboard of Life
2004 In The Company of Cheerful Ladies (also known as The Night-Time Dancer)
2006 Blue Shoes and Happiness
2007 The Good Husband of Zebra Drive
2008 The Miracle at Speedy Motors
2009 Tea Time for the Traditionally Built
2010 The Double Comfort Safari Club (Unpublished yet)
Both works ( The No.1 Ladies’s Detective Agency Series & 44 Scotland Street Series) are a homage to the writer’s adopted home of Edinburgh, and McCall does his home justice, lovingly detailing the atmosphere and vibrancy of the streets and cafés, the people and the places that populate what seems to be a very fine city. The writing swirls in adoring gusts around the lives of the characters first created in this novel’s precursor, detailing their lives amidst brilliant and tantalizing description of the Scottish city. Source: ArtVoice
Alexander McCall Smith was born in the British colony of Southern Rhodesia, now called Zimbabwe, and raised in Zimbabwe and Scotland. He moved to Scotland and lives in Edinburgh with his wife and two daughters. At one point in time, he took a three years leave of absence from his duties as Professor of Medical Law in Edinburgh, to solely write books and share his extraordinary sense of place with all his readers.
Did you know Mairiuna, that Alexander McCall Smith can write up to 4,000 words on a good day ? That’s what he told Adam Woog in the September 2008 interview given to the Seattle Times while Book Touring the USA.
Being a prolific and much read author can also bring a lot of surprises. Even though plot characters are fictional, and authors allowed to make them say whatever they decide they should say, many times they are faced in front of the lifestyle and opinions of created characters and asked to justify their actions and sayings !
Alexander McCall Smith shares some encounters of this type in his great article “Lost In Fiction“, written and published in The Wall Street Journal last April.
Gotta go now to the library because I only have three books from The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and I need to complete my collection. Bought the first one at The Book Shop in Wigtown, when we spent the day , all three of us, in our favorite spot in southern Scotland.
I loved each second of that day..and convinced you did also my friend !