Liza Cody Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Award-winning author Liza Cody is recognized for broadening the scope of the British detective genre. Not content merely with incorporating a modern female detective into the mold, she has created works that complicate what it means to be a detecting woman in a field traditionally reserved for tough male protagonists and spinsterish female amateurs. Identified primarily with her two feminist detective series, featuring Anna Lee and Eva Wylie, Cody also writes short fiction and novels of suspense.

Certain features of Cody’s style resemble those of master detective writer Raymond Chandler. Her prose is realistic and sparse, replete with believable and frequently witty dialogue. Like Chandler’s characters, Cody’s detectives are loners wary of connections with others but in search of them nonetheless. The world they investigate is a dark one, in which human nature is deceptive and the task of piecing together clues labyrinthine.

Cody is notable for her development of original female detectives, both professional and amateur, and for her examination of the intersection of gender, authority, and justice in her works. Like her contemporaries, American authors Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton, Cody populates her novels with sleuthing women who are tough-minded, physically strong, independent in lifestyle, and otherwise defiant of sexual stereotypes.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Breen, Jon. Review of The Lucky Dip, and Other Stories, by Liza Cody. Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine (July, 2004). Breen notes that while most of the stories in this collection involve criminal activity, a few are not traditional representations of the genre.

Hadley, Mary. British Women Mystery Writers: Six Authors of Detective Fiction with Female Sleuths. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2002. Examines the evolution of the female detective in British fiction from the 1960’s to the year 2000. One of the featured authors is Cody.

Irons, Glenwood, and Joan Worthing Roberts. “From Spinster to Hipster: The Suitability of Miss Marple and Anna Lee.” In Feminism in Women’s Detective Fiction, edited by Glenwood Irons. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995. Compares Anna Lee to her detective predecessor, Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, acknowledging that Cody has updated the genre by coarsening the image of the female investigator.

Klein, Kathleen Gregory. The Woman Detective: Gender and Genre. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988. Views private investigator Anna Lee as less capable than her male complements in the genre. Questions whether Cody has truly liberated the female detective or fallen back on stereotypes.

Klein, Kathleen Gregory, ed. Great Women Mystery Writers: Classic to Contemporary. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. Contains a biocritical essay on Cody.

Publishers Weekly. Review of Monkey Wrench, by Liza Cody. 242, no. 15 (April, 1995): 57. Praises the authenticity of Cody’s Eva Wylie and her environs, the seedy London district where wrestlers, drug users, and prostitutes converge.

Zvirin, Stephanie. Review of Musclebound, by Liza Cody. Booklist 93, no. 22 (August, 1997): 1882. Notes the manner in which the skeptical former wrestler and amateur sleuth, Eva Wylie, departs from Cody’s previous heroine, the analytic private investigator Anna Lee.