The 5 Female Detectives Who Cracked Crimes In Bygone Times

The past may have been a man’s world, but tell that to these five female detectives who sweep through their eras solving crimes with aplomb.

The 5 Female Detectives Who Cracked Crimes In Bygone Times
The one thing sharper than Mrs Bradley's fashion sense is her tongue.

The one thing sharper than Mrs Bradley's fashion sense is her tongue.

MRS BRADLEY

When you're cracking cases in the roaring 20s - an era of jazz, elegant fashions and Art Deco opulence - it helps to have some style yourself. That's something Mrs Adela Bradley certainly isn't short on. Ignoring social conventions and sashaying through the world with a glint in her eye and a sly smile on her lips, she's always lavishly dressed - think leopard print coats, pin-striped suits, furs and pearls.

The one thing sharper than her fashion sense is her tongue. The countryside? "A place where the birds and animals wander about uncooked." A girls' finishing school? "A sort of farm where they grow wives and mothers." The criminals don't stand a chance.

Miss Marple is a little bundle of contradictions: sweet yet cunning, old fashioned yet worldly.

Miss Marple is a little bundle of contradictions: sweet yet cunning, old fashioned yet worldly.

MISS MARPLE

Miss Jane Marple, the sparkling spinster of St Mary Mead, has had almost as many on-screen incarnations as Doctor Who. But many fans will plump for Joan Hickson as the definitive Marple. In fact, Agatha Christie herself wrote to a younger Hickson to say she hoped Joan would one day play the part.

Miss Marple may look like someone's doddery nan, but nothing escapes her casual glance. She's a little bundle of contradictions: sweet yet cunning, old fashioned yet worldly. Existing in a world of vicars and village greens, her gentle meddling spells trouble for the secret villains lurking within her idyllic landscape.

Kate Warne is prim, sensible and full of beans: like a Girl Scout with a gun.

Kate Warne is prim, sensible and full of beans: like a Girl Scout with a gun.

KATE WARNE

At first glance, Kate Warne is the goody-goody of this bunch. The standout character in The Pinkertons, she's prim, sensible and full of beans: like a Girl Scout with a gun. But there's real inner steel to her as well. There has to be: as a private eye in 1860s America, she's a woman with a man's job, and has to constantly prove herself on each and every case, whether she's helping take down train robbers or going undercover as a Southern belle to uncover the crimes of the early Ku Klux Klan.

As good with lab equipment as she is with a pistol, Kate is a forensic expert as well as a sleuth: think CSI in the wake of the Civil War.

Sally Lockhart may be young, but she makes up for that in her unlikely skills.

Sally Lockhart may be young, but she makes up for that in her unlikely skills.

SALLY LOCKHART

Unlike the other women here, Sally Lockhart fell into mystery-solving for very personal reasons. It was the enigma surrounding her own father's death that first led her into the underbelly of the 19th Century, forcing her to draw on all her quick intelligence and life-saving resourcefulness.

She may be young, but she makes up for that in her unlikely skills (she speaks Hindustani and is rather good with a gun), as well as her sheer bravery in the face of murderers, opium dealers and the other unsavoury characters haunting the streets of Victorian England.

With a taste for fast cars and flying, Phryne Fisher would give James Bond a run for his money.

With a taste for fast cars and flying, Phryne Fisher would give James Bond a run for his money.

MISS FISHER

If there's one detective who could rival Mrs Bradley in the style stakes, it's Miss Fisher. She also inhabits the glittering world of the 1920s, except she happens to be almost literally a world away, in Australia.

Independently wealthy with a taste for fast cars and flying (she's a skilled pilot), the sleek and adventurous Phryne Fisher would give James Bond a run for his money. She's not simply a woman ahead of her time - even in the 21st Century she makes most people look like boring, shrinking violets by comparison.

Watch The Pinkertons Sundays at 8pm on Drama.