When I first got involved with the mystery world nearly twenty years ago, I noticed something I thought a bit odd. Mystery writers seemed to love the name Kate. Between published books and unpublished manuscripts I read in writing workshops, I saw fictional Kates everywhere. Then I became program chair of Malice Domestic, and it seemed that practically every third book of a registered author had a protagonist named Kate. I remember thinking one day that you couldn't swing a dead cat (or a nice live cozy one, by the fire, on the cover of a mystery) without hitting an amateur sleuth named Kate who was out to save the day. Even today, we have lots of Kates out there: Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak, Laurie King's Kate Martinelli, Linda Castillo's Kate Burkholder, and Frances Brody's Kate Shackleton, just to name a few mystery sleuths.
But Kate, my dear girl, I believe your reign is over. Because I've seen a new protagonist on the rise. She's smart, she's sassy, and she is solving crimes EVERYWHERE. Her name is Sarah. (And sometimes Sara.)
I went online to find some Sarahs to tell you all about, and I came up with a dozen in no time at all, living all over the place, and this is just the tip of the iceberg:
- Sarah Winston solves crimes in Ellington, Massachusetts, when she's not throwing garage sales (and sometimes while she is). This Agatha-nominated amateur-sleuth series is written by Sherry Harris.
- Sarah Booth Delaney solves crimes in Zinnia, Mississippi, when she's not dealing with a bossy ghost. This series about a southern belle turned private eye is written by Carolyn Haines.
- Sarah Brandt solves crimes in old New York when she's not delivering babies. This Edgar- and Agatha-nominated series about a midwife turned amateur sleuth in early twentieth-century Manhattan is written by Victoria Thompson.
- Sarah Grayson solves crimes in North Harbor, Maine, when she's not running her refurbished-goods shop. This series about an amateur sleuth who solves crimes with her cat is written by Sofie Ryan.
- Dr. Sara Linton gets involved in darker crimes (or at least darker on paper) than the previously mentioned protagonists. This series about a pediatrician and coroner is set in Grant County, Georgia, (before the character moves to Atlanta as part of a second series). This Barry- and Macavity-nominated series is written by Karin Slaughter.
- Sarah Kelling solves crimes with her art-fraud investigator husband, Max, in Boston. This Anthony-nominated series was written by the late Charlotte MacLeod.
- Sarah Blair solves crimes in Wheaton, Alabama, when she's not working as a law firm receptionist. This series about an amateur sleuth is scheduled to debut this December. It's written by Debra H. Goldstein.
The following sleuthy Sarahs I don't know much about (at least not yet):
- Sarah Woods series written by Jennifer L. Jennings
- Sarah Miller series written by Carol Dean Jones
- Sarah Hart series written by a series of authors
- Sara Mason series written by Mary Deal
- Sarah Quilliam series written by Claudia Bishop
Queen Kate is dead (or at least less popular than before). Long live the new queen, Sarah!