Mysterious business

1955 08 Aug 21  in crib

 (my little brother)


Inspired by the choice from the popular television series Sherlock that my daughter and her husband made for the name for their soon-to-be-born son  (and no, they didn’t go with “Sherlock”), I’ve put together a list of baby names from mystery stories with which I’m familiar.  Some names, of course, would have to be for brave and adventurous parents, but the lists should have something for most mystery-loving parents.


Agatha (call her Aggie), for the Queen of Mystery, Agatha Christie, or Ngaio Marsh’s character, Agatha Troy Alleyn
Amelia, for Elizabeth Peters’s Amelia Peabody books
Anne (Beddingfeld), the sleuth in Agatha Christie’s book, The Man in the Brown Suit
Ariadne, for Agatha Christie’s writer-sleuth, Ariadne Oliver
Barb, for Elizabeth George’s detective’s sidekick, Barbara Havers
Bertha (call her Bertie), for Erle Stanley Gardner’s Bertha Cool/Donald Lam stories
Beverly, for Clair Blank’s young detective, Beverly Gray
China, for Susan Wittig Albert’s detective, China Bayles
Cordelia, for P.D. James’s detective in An Unsuitable Job for a Woman
Eileen, for Agatha Christie’s “Bundle” Brent
Emily, for Dorothy Gilman’s Emily Polifax
Emma, (Mrs. Peel) from the mid-1960s television series, The Avengers
Georgiana, for Rhys Bowen’s royal detective, Lady Georgiana
Goldy, for Diane Mott Davidson’s detective, Goldy Bear Schulz
Harriet, for Dorothy Sayers’s, Harriet Vane
Honey, from the 1965/66 tv series, Honey West
Jacqueline, for Elizabeth Peters’s romantically literary detective Jacqueline Kirby
Jemima, for Antonia Fraser’s detective, Jemima Shore
Minette, for author Minette Walters
Nancy, for Carolyn Keene’s iconic Nancy Drew
Nora, from Dashiell Hammett’s Thin Man books
Precious, for Alexander McCall Smith’s detective, Precious Ramotswe
Prudence, aka Tuppence, from Agatha Christie’s Tommy & Tuppence stories
Susan, for the significant other of Spenser, Robert Parker’s detective/enforcer
Tess, for Laura Lippman’s detecive, Tess Monaghan
Vicky, for Elizabeth Peters’s detective, Vicky Bliss


Adam, for P.D. James’s detective, Adam Dalgliesh
Archie (Goodwin), the sidekick of Rex Stout’s detective, Nero Wolfe
Cadfael, for Ellis Peters’s Brother Cadfael
Charles, for Simon Brett’s detective Charles Paris
Charlie, for Earl Derr Biggers’s detective, Charlie Chan (meant to counter the “Yellow Peril” Asian stereotype of the time)
Dee, for Robert van Gulik’s detective, Judge Dee (hey, the name works for rocker Dee Snider)
Endeavor, for Colin Dexter’s detective Inspector Morse’s first name
Emerson/Ramses, the son of Elizabeth Peters’s detective, Amelia Peabody
Edgar, for Edgar Allan Poe
Ellery, for the (partnership) author Ellery Queen
Gideon, for John Dickson Carr’s detective Gideon Fell
Guido, for Donna Leon’s happily married detective, Guido Brunetti
Jim, for Lilian Jackson Braun’s cat-sitting detective Jim Qwilleran
Per, for Maj Sjöwall’s partner Per Wahlöö
Perry, for Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason, of course
Peter, probably the super-name concerning mysteries, for Dorothy Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey, Charlotte MacLeod’s Peter Shandy, Reginald Hill’s Peter Pascoe, and authors Peter Lovesey or Peter Robinson
Pierre, for Hugh Pentecost’s detective, Pierre Chambrun
Reginald, Ruth Rendell’s detective, Reginald Wexford, or for the author Reginald Hill
Robbie, for Colin Dexter’s Robbie Lewis, initially from the Inspector Morse stories
, for Ngaio Marsh’s detective, Roderick Alleyn
Simon (Templar), for Leslie Charteris’s detective, The Saint
Virgil, for John Ball’s detective, Virgil Tibbs
Walter, for Walter Mosley who writes the Easy Rawlings series
Wilkie, for Wilkie Collins

On Netflix, I have just discovered Phryne Fisher.

The first two episodes of the series (all that I’ve seen, at the moment) are of excellent quality, capturing the elegance of the 1920s. I also find the characters to be engaging.  I’m hoping that the books are as evocative.

01 Jenny Milchman and Nancy Pickard

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of listening to Nancy Pickard at our monthly first-Saturday meeting of the Border Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime at the Mysteryscape bookstore.  Nancy, whose most recent book is The Scent of Rain and Lightning, introduced Jenny Milchman to the Border Crimes members.

Jenny, who released her debut novel Cover of Snow this past January and is now on a 7-month bookstore tour with her family, told us about her friendship with Nancy, her publishing journey, and together they recounted the differences between Nancy’s start as a published author and Jenny’s.  It was a rewarding meeting and I was pleased to meet Jenny in person after making her acquaintance online.

This past week Minotaur published Every Broken Trust, the latest book from my Sisters In Crime pal, Linda Rodriguez.  Last night the Mysteryscape bookstore in Overland Park, Kansas, hosted Linda’s launch party.  I arrived late, but Linda was still on hand to sign a book for me.

Linda Rodriguez signing my copy of her newest book, Every Broken Trust

Linda Rodriguez signing my copy of her newest book, Every Broken Trust

I haven’t yet read the book, having bought it only last night, but I believe one of Linda’s favorite reviews of the book is at the blog, Criminal Element, and she offers the first chapter of the book at her own blog, Linda Rodriguez Writes.

I am developing an abiding hatred for invisible toggle keys on the keyboard. The program you’re using may tell you to “press X to use the keyboard shortcut to do Y” but it doesn’t tell you the “shortcut” of the key that turns that toggle key on and off.

I was happily using “insert” to create a new text box, all according to the drop-down box’s recommendation for the keyboard shortcut. An hour after I started work, all of a sudden the insert key will only make a zero (since the insert key is also the zero key in the number pad). I don’t remember striking the num lock button, but yeah, pushing it fixed the problem. Still, it was an interruption, an irritant and and an imposition.

I am so tired of the pile of learning curves between programs, between gizmos, and between iterations of gizmos. It’s like an hourly ‘learning of toilets’ on a European road trip: “how do you flush THIS one?!?!”

Okay, rant over, blood pressure returning to normal, time to get back to work.

(I’m enjoying alone time with the last of my tea from my room-service breakfast so I can finish a highly-useful course by Kris Neri that started before I left home and ends this coming week. I’m going to buy the CDs of the Bouchercon panels I’m missing — many thanks to the Bouchercon team posting pictures on Facebook to remind me.)

I had a good time today with Nancy Pickard from my home Sisters in Crime group (Kansas) and about forty new friends.  Nancy taught a seminar, SinC into Great Writing, and many of us later agreed that we were happily surprised at the number of hints, tips and techniques she generously shared.

The icing on my cake was having my name drawn to win Nancy’s book, The Scent of Rain and Lightning.  She autographed it, too.

I must also thank my husband for doing my convention registration while I was listening to Nancy.  So far, I’m win-win at Bouchercon, and it doesn’t even officially begin until tomorrow.

One question circulating on an email list is which fictional detectives are the list-members’ favorites.  As a long-time reader of mystery/suspense stories, I do have my preferences, but it surprised me to see so many detectives whose names are new to me.   If I jot them down, I’ll have an entirely new section for my Word.doc reading list.  (I like keeping the list there as I can add things in alphabetical order, something that is difficult to do with a pen & paper list.)

Back to the inciting question for this entry (since the name of the blog game is frequently-added novel content), who are my favorite detectives, limiting them to 10 in number?  I think I have two sets of favorites, one from my childhood and teen years, and one adult group.  I don’t know if that’s ‘cheating’ on limiting the number to 10, but I find it difficult to exclude some favorite characters, and also hard to look at a  list containing both Freddie the Pig and Andy Dalziel, although some people might see a similarity.

Without further nattering and fwiw, here are, in no particular order, my two top-10 lists.

  1. Rupert the Bear (for the preschool set; Rupert was always tracking down some mystery or other)
  2. Freddy the Detective
  3. Nancy Drew
  4. Beverly Gray
  5. Miss Pickerell
  6. Lewis Barnavelt
  7. Matthew Looney
  8. Judge Dee
  9. Gideon of Scotland Yard
  10. James Bond

Edgar-worthy juvenile mysteries are listed here.

My list of detectives from my adult years is:

  1. Anne Beddingfeld (the main character in my favorite Christie story, The Man in the Brown Suit)
  2. Amelia Peabody
  3. Inspector Clouseau (the Peter Sellers Clouseau)
  4. Dalziel and Pascoe (can’t have one without the other)
  5. Morse and Lewis (not cheating very much)
  6. Spencer and Hawk (still not cheating much)
  7. Cordelia Gray
  8. Kurt Wallender
  9. Harry Hole
  10. Recently rediscovered Honey West (if only because she was a pretty pioneering PI)

Ask me next month about my favorite detectives-for-grownups and I’ll probably have a different list.


Update:  Runners-up

From my DVD collection: Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle with his sidekicks, Samantha “Sam” Stewart and Detective Sergeant Paul Milner.

From Mysteristas:

  • Lady Georgiana
  • Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane
  • from the comments section: Brother Cadfael

From DorothyL:

  • Perry Mason
  • Adam Dalgliesh
  • Hamish Macbeth
  • John Rebus
  • Christie: Tommy and Tuppence
  • Sayers: Wimsey, but only with Harriet Vane-they complete each other
  • Dorothy Gilman: Mrs. Pollifax
  • Elizabeth Peters: Jacqueline Kirby
  • RALPH McInerny’s Father Dowling is a parish priest
  • Jim Qwilleran.
  • Marcus Didius Falco
  • Napoleon Bonaparte (Upfield)
  • Guido Brunetti
  • Sister Fidelma (Tremayne)
  • Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee
  • Walter Mosley! He’s probably best known for the Easy Rawlins
  • Charlotte Macleod’s Peter Shandy
  • Michael Bond’s M. Pamplemousse
  • Peter Lovesey’s Bertie Prince of Wales

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