Despite the thousands of private investigators throughout the U.S. (P.I. Magazine estimates there to be approximately 60,000), and the wide variety of specializations (from insurance investigators to accident reconstruction specialists to pet detectives), many people still view private investigators as Sam Spade clones. Meaning, they’re men, they’re tough, they carry heat, they talk like Bogie.
Ah, the lasting allure of noir.
Busting a Few Myths
Just as not all school teachers or plumbers or attorneys are tough, not all private investigators are tough. You know, tough in the “When a man’s partner is killed, he’s supposed to do something about it,” mold (Sam Spade quote, for those curious).
But if we’re talking tough in terms of being a successful business person (handling day-to-day business, managing clients and subcontractors, making more money coming in than going out), then yes, qualified, experienced private investigators are tough. Carrying guns? Some private investigators do, many don’t. And although most P.I.s are men, P.I. Magazine estimates 15 percent, and that number is growing, are women.
What Is the World of a Female Investigator Like?
In a recent issue of PI Magazine, the author of the article was listed as one of the “new wave” of women private investigators, so I suppose I have a good idea of what it’s like to be surfing in today’s P.I. waters. I’ve never thought of myself as a shrinking violet, but I’ve certainly become more assertive, sometimes even fearless, in my work. Occasionally people still assume I’m the agency secretary, not its president, but I’m happy to say those assumptions occur less and less. I have excellent business relationships with my fellow P.I.s, both men and women, and I’ve never met a male P.I. yet who doesn’t treat me like a peer. And for the record, I don’t carry a gun, but I know women P.I.s who do.
I’m friends with several women private investigators who work in other states. Our friendships came about when either they hired me or I hired them. One was a crime reporter before taking over her father’s, a former FBI special agent’s, P.I. agency. Another is the president of a fast-paced, high-profile agency.
What do I love about the work? I love research. Love digging for evidence. Really love finding the clue, the missing piece, the proof that solves a case. After a few violent encounters, I no longer accept process service requests, and I’m getting to the point where I’d rather poke a stick in my eye than sit on a lengthy surveillance.
What Other Women Think About Being Private Eyes
Below is a sampling of articles about women private investigators. Click a link to read the story.
L.I. Moms Bring Woman’s Touch to Private Investigation (CBS New York)
Women sleuths find success in Delaware (forum Private Investigators Union)
Female PI builds successful business from from her Quilcene farm (Leigh Hearon Investigative Services)
For these married Denver detectives, truth is more fun than fiction (Westword, a story about the author and her husband-PI-partner)
Last, thanks to Thrilling Detective, here’s a listing of the fictional female PIs in literature: Dangerous Dames: A Timeline of Some of the Significant Female Eyes, and the Date of Their First Appearance
Besides being a private investigator, Colleen is a multi-published author of romance, mystery and nonfiction. Her current nonfiction release is Secrets of a Real-Life Female Private Eye. Her next fiction release is Sleepless in Las Vegas, December 2013, the second in her Las Vegas private-eye-romance series.
Praise for The Zen Man
"Great humor. Great dialogue. Author did a great job of establishing the relationship between Rick and Laura. It never overshadowed the mystery, but it made the book truly multi-dimensional."
~New York Times best-selling author Dorien Kelly
"A real page turner. I enjoyed this book full of suspense and surprises. I have never read this author before but will look for her next surprise."
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