Nancy Pickard was one of the first female mystery writers to introduce feminist elements to traditional cozy mysteries in the early 1980’s, depicting a female amateur sleuth with a career unlike previous female protagonists, who solved mysteries without professional commitments interfering with or benefitting their efforts. In her later works, Pickard has continued creating affluent, savvy protagonists and supporting characters who are educated and experienced in their fields, earn incomes, and contribute to their communities economically and intellectually.
Pickard’s versatile sleuths enable her to incorporate diverse elements to portray autonomous, competent women who can tackle crooks using new resources, such as computing skills, to investigate financial fraud and white-collar crimes. Pickard’s novels preceded mysteries by such authors as Linda Grant, Carolyn Hart, and Joan Hess, who featured corporate or entrepreneurial women sleuths.
Most critics and peers consider Pickard an exemplary mystery author, and her talents have been recognized with numerous awards. In 1986, Pickard’s second novel, Say No to Murder (1985), received the initial Anthony Award for best paperback original at the Bouchercon Mystery Convention. Malice Domestic Mystery Convention attendees voted for Pickard’s novel I.O.U. (1991) to receive an Agatha Award. That mystery also won a Shamus Award from the Private Eye Writers of America and was a Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Allan Poe Award nominee. Pickard’s mystery, The Virgin of Small Plains (2006), was nominated in 2007 for both Edgar and Agatha best novel awards.