Fifteen tales selected from the author's fifteen years of research into the incidence of female sleuths in English/American detective fiction. In an entertaining introduction, Slung follows the evolution of her subject from the strenuously ""womanly"" Victorians, through their sisters of the Golden Years, the hard-boiled school, the ""couples"" era, (the Norths, the (Charles' etc.), and the batty variants in the Gothics, to the emergence of Emma Peel and Modesty Blaise (even now passe) and today's policewoman protagonists. Ms. Slung points out some bright innovative fictional investigatrice long hidden in the stacks and secondhand bookshops, and explains her omissions--Gothic heroines, girl wonders like Nancy Drew, halves of pairs and prime movers in romantic mysteries. The stories here are only intermittently interesting as whodunits. The early tales are fiat and pat; and it is not until the Oppenheim, Eberhart and Gladys Mitchell selections that there is any dash, atmosphere or movement at all. However some of the early ladies have diverting peculiarities: a Miss Mack always dresses in either all black or all white; Lovelady Brook starts her work with a mind""completely blank""; a Miss Van Snoop ""earned the luxury of hysterics"" after her collar. With a delightful informal bibliography, it's an amusing curio.