Joan Smith

A Masculine Ending published in 1987, introduced university lecturer Loretta Lawson. A figure of some charm, whose inclinations place her between the extremists she encounters at Fem/Sap, a feminist literary journal, and misogynist dons, Loretta becomes involved in detection by the chance discovery of a body in a borrowed Paris flat. The first novel follows the rules of the amateur detective story, but later instalments in the series break with convention; the most recent, Full Stop, is more an exploration of the misery of being a stalkerís victim than a mystery novel. Loretta shares with most other modern female sleuths a disinclination to allow any man to share her life for ever, but she is not above using her ex-husband, investigative journalist John Tracey, when she needs help. Unlike most of her counterparts, she is an excellent cook, specialising in Tuscan recipes.

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