“Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them.”

I’m reading like a fiend, especially books about women solving murders.

I watched The Fall, so maybe that’s part of it. By the way, if you’re comfortable watching crime procedurals, The Fall is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Crime procedurals are often problematic or guilty viewing for feminists because they can be triggering, they can perpetuate victim blaming, and they are often tone-deaf to the nuances of rape culture.

In the course of the show, Gillian Anderson’s character, Stella Gibson, recites one of my favorite Margaret Atwood quotes:

“Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them.”

And with that, here are some books about women smashing the patriarchy.


The Likeness by Tana French

Hopefully you know about my complicated feels for the previous book in this series. The complicated feels have been resolved. What remains is pure enjoyment. The Likeness was spectacular.

Former undercover cop Cassie Maddox has recently moved from Dublin’s Murder Squad to Domestic Violence. Murder Squad finds the body of a young woman whose resemblance to Cassie is uncanny– and the body is identified as Lexie Madison, Cassie’s former undercover alias. Since there is no such person as Lexie Madision, and there are no leads on the murder, Cassie has to decide whether to return to undercover work to find the mystery girl’s killer.

Cassie’s quest to find this mystery woman’s identity and killer leads her through a labyrinthine exploration of identity, deception, and what it takes to truly leave a place and lose (or discard) a former self.

“My hand was on the door handle when for a split second out of nowhere I was terrified, blue-blazing terrified, fear dropping straight through me like a jagged black stone falling fast… All you can do with that moment is bite down and wait for it to be over… I took one more look around my flat– lights off, water heater off, bins emptied, window locked; the room was already closing in on itself, silence seeping into the spaces where we had been, drifting up like dust in the corners. Then I shut the door.”

 


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, Read by Martin Wenner

I didn’t read this (or watch it) for the longest time because it was all anyone could talk about and I thought it was potentially overhyped.

But damn, Lisbeth Salander. DAMN.

I love that the original title in Swedish was “Män som hatar kvinnor” or “Men Who Hate Women,” but it pisses me off something fierce that the world of English publishing was like “That is way, harsh, Tai. Let’s kick of an annoying publishing trend of Girl + Preposition titles that infantalize competent women.” SIGH. Especially when the book has gems like:

“She went around with the attitude that she would rather be beaten to death than take any shit. And she always got revenge.”

Dragon Tattoo follows two characters, Mikhail Blumquist, who is a disgraced journalist, and Lisbeth Salander, an introverted hacker who works for an investigative firm.

Mikhail is investigating a decades-old disappearance that could be a murder.

Lisbeth is investigating Mikhail.

Huge, huge, HUGE trigger warning for rape in this book. HOLY CRAP, it’s really tough to get through. Like, if rape is triggering for you even a little, consider skipping it.

With that said, if violent revenge against rapists is cathartic for you… this book has you covered.

It’s so satisfying to consume media focused on hyper-competent women, especially in male-dominated fields, like crime solving and STEM. And if you call any of these characters a Mary Sue, know that they could drop you like a sack of potatoes.

Furthermore, two out of the three characters mentioned in this post are queer, so that makes me really happy.

Enjoy some Peaches (featuring Joann Jett) while you channel these ass-kicking women:

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