; 400x60

Festivale book section

Book Reviews

Summer 1997

go to contents of current issue contents.jpg - 1911 Bytes
festivale book section

PIs in our Midst

Val McDermid's journey amongst female investigators - "A Suitable Job for a Woman

book cover, A Suitable Job for a Woman, Val McDermid This book was one of the quickest, easiest reads I have picked up in ages. It is direct, informative, and pure 'human interest' from cover to cover. A Suitable Job for a Woman is a series of essays, each documenting McDermid's meeting with a female private investigator.

The result is enlightening, and very thought-provoking. Some female PIs, for example, refuse to work on rape cases; others consider that female investigators for the defense can be less distressing for the victims.

Among the women McDermid talks to are Sandra Sutherland, an Australian woman who took on American Express, and a woman who investigated the charges against Michael Jackson.

Share this
Like us on facebook
For the latest news and reviews.

Editor's choice
This is one of those books that we should be giving to teenagers - lots of realistic examples of women toughing it out in a tough field. I found this book in a couple of 'remainder' bookshops, but HarperCollins assure me that it is still in print and available.

The Thing She Loves
book cover, The Thing She Loves, Kerry Greenwood

Amazon.com logo
Search for:

As an considerable contrast, The Thing She Loves has a more gruesome human-interest angle, and is less easy to read. In this book, several women writers examine various aspects of Australian female killers. Editor Kerry Greenwood is a lawyer (and crime writer), and the general impression I got is that this is an excellent resource for those in the legal professions, social welfare, and so on.

By the time I was three-quarters of the way through The Thing She Loves it took about 45 minutes to talk me down. The problem I had was that until the last chapter, in which Greenwood sums up the book and offers some strategies, the book reads like a catalogue of insurmountable difficulties. Women have had it tough in the past. Women still do, some more than others. And women will continue to have it tough as long as they (we) lap up all the bullshit advertisers and relatives and society general tells us makes us 'lovable' or proves that we are 'loved'.

In Association with Amazon.co.uk
Search For:

'Clean a man's shoes and he'll walk all over you.' Now there's a proverb.

But I know women who do it. I guess the question is, how much can a woman take in the name of love and marriage without getting out her trusty kitchen knife and fixing the whole family right up? And why don't more women take arms against their troubles?

Studies are, of course, just opinion. How well informed they are depends on the researcher, how well written and presented depends on the editor and publishers. (AGAIN I beg for a few minutes with a blunt object and the layout artist. It'd be nice if I could have read the author's names at the head of each essay, but sadly design won out over communication.)

When Barbara Creed in her essay on female killers in film states that in Black Widow the character kills "because she wants to possess them totally. Through their deaths they will return to the earth/womb". In the film the killer says, "I loved them all - deeply." But, she continues, "rich is hard." You never, apparently, have quite enough.

This is not a deep psychological reason for killing, it's material. So, with such a radical misreading of that film, I had extreme difficulty giving credence to any of that author's other judgements.

Click here to send in your comments on this book
So, no, I don't recommend that you give this to your fourteen-year-old. This book is an argument, and because of it's heavy female-as-killer/victim content it's not a very positive message to the young. If you read this book, out of general interest or as a reference, I recommend reading Greenwood's last chapter early on, otherwise you might be campaigning for male-leash laws at worst, or at best indulging in heated arguments at the coffee machine with completely befuddled workmates.

by Ali Kayn

Share this
Like us on facebook
For the latest news and reviews.

index of book reviewsgo to contents of current issueGo to the current bookroom sectiongo to index pageGo to the current bookroom section

Festivale Online Magazine
Celebrate everything!

ISSN 1328-8008
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
disclaimers | contact the editor | Festivale revision history

: Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia : copyright © Festivale 1999 - 2016 All rights reserved
Filed: 28-Feb-1997 : Last updated: : Last tested: 15-Jan-2009 : Last Compiled: 17-Dec-2015
Entire site refreshed: Dec 2008-Feb 2009 | Site URL transferred: Jan 2005 (previously www.festivale.webcentral.com.au)

Report a bug