A working poliswoman

I’ve complained before that it’s hard to find examples in fiction of women at work.  When i was writing the PP, I asked individuals and groups, better read than i am, to come up with fictional examples of women where their job figures prominently, but got little response.

I’ve been recuperating from an op, and so have had the leisure to rattle through quite a few books.  One very enjoyable thriller was Val McDermid’s Out of Bounds.  Karen Pirie is in the polis – a DCI in the Historic Cases Unit, dedicated to opening old crime files and resolving them.  In this tale she finds a link between a 20-year-old unsolved murder and a current killing, and muscles in to solve both.

There is a lot of nice detail on the procedures, and for me the particular enjoyment of following routes in and around Edinburgh, where I lived for 10 years and still have many attachments.  But from the PP angle the interest was in the way Karen relates to her colleagues.  Her (male) superiors are vain incompetents who see her as a rather uppity officer who doesn’t toe the line.  They make repeated attempts to bring her to heel, ineffectual because she steamrollers through them – perhaps a little too easily, but anyway fearlessly.    I’m not sure her way of handling them is exactly a model for women dealing with awkward bosses, but she certainly stands up for herself.  Her assistant, Jason, is a bumbling well-meaning doughnut-scoffer;  she doesn’t mother him (Karen has no children herself) but she does push him along.

Karen’s love life figures, though rather tragically – her lover, a fellow polis called Phil, was killed in service.  Their relaxation was to drink large quantities of connoisseur gin together, and she misses him badly.  That’s why the work is so important for her.

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