Bloody Women: How Female Authors Have Transformed the Scottish Contemporary Crime Fiction Genre


University of Stirling


This study will explore the role of female authors in contemporary Scottish crime fiction. Over the past thirty years, women writers have overhauled the traditionally male dominated genre of crime fiction by writing about strong female characters who drive the plot and solve the crimes. Authors including Val McDermid, Denise Mina and Lin Anderson are just a few of the women who have challenged the expectation of gender and genre. By setting their novels in contemporary society they reflect a range of social and political issues through the lens of a female protagonist. By closely examining the female characters, both journalists, in Val McDermid’s Lindsay Gordon series and Denise Mina’s Paddy Meehan series, I wish to explore the issue of gender through these writers’ perspectives.

This essay documents the influence of these writers on my own practice-based research which involves writing a crime novel set in a post referendum Scotland. I examine a progressive and contemporary Scottish society, where women hold many senior positions in public life, and investigate whether this has an effect on the outcome of crimes. Through this narrative, my main character will focus on the current and largely hidden crimes of human trafficking and domestic abuse. By doing this I examine the ways in which the modern crime novel has evolved to cross genre boundaries. In addition to focusing on a crime, the victims and witnesses, today’s crime novels are tackling social issues to reflect society’s changing attitudes and values.


Keywords: women, crime fiction, female protagonists, Val McDermid, Denise Mina, Lin Anderson, Scottish, domestic abuse, human trafficking, gender