Nancy Pickard Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

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.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Dyer, Carolyn Stewart, and Nancy Tillman Romalov, eds. Rediscovering Nancy Drew. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1995. Includes Pickard’s essay telling how Nancy Drew books influenced her to write mysteries and her remarks at a conference, describing her experiences writing in the mystery genre.

Hall, Melissa Mia. “Small Miracles.” Publishers Weekly 253, no. 13 (March 27, 2006): 61. Focusing on The Virgin of Small Plains, Pickard answers questions explaining why she wrote that mystery and how the Midwest shaped that novel’s imagery and themes.

Klein, Kathleen Gregory, ed. Great Women Mystery Writers: Classic to Contemporary. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994. An essay featuring Pickard provides brief novel analyses through But I Wouldn’t Want to Die There and compares her work to mysteries depicting career women.

Marks, Jeffrey. “An Interview with Nancy Pickard.” The Armchair Detective 26, no. 2 (Spring, 1993): 84-88. Pickard describes how she became a mystery writer, her work habits, social issues concerns, and how her protagonist has changed from her first novel through I.O.U.

Shindler, Dorman T. “Nancy Pickard: The Third Stage of Evolution.” Publishers Weekly 249, no. 31 (August 5, 2002): 48-49. Based on an interview with Pickard, reveals how she perceives her writing changed during three phases of her career, undergoing doubt then confidence to alter and enhance her style and techniques.