Book review: The Lindsay Gordon Series – Val McDermid

“The Lesbian Anti-Hero; My hero”
I am two thirds through reading this series and had to take a pause and share the wonderful experience reading these books with you.

Starting with Report for Murder (1987) the book which introduces us to our heroine with attitude, Glaswegian journalist Lindsay Gordon, we are thrown into a series that would have been fairly unusual for its time. Very openly lesbian themed, packed with lesbian characters and unashamedly bringing lesbian culture to the fore (think about how it felt watching those characters discussing all things lesbian in the L Word series). The only thing really missing are gratuitous sex scenes that I imagine would not have been palatable to late 1980s publishers.

Gordon is instantly shown to us to be the rebellious, cheeky, authority challenging feisty hero we all love to read about. She’s the kind of character many readers would fantasise about being, smart, attractive, confident of herself and standing up for her beliefs, incredibly loyal and determined. She’s not all bows and bells though. She does things the hard way and her inner journalist instinct comes through at sometimes inappropriate moments. She even cheats on a girlfriend (but that later turns out to be vindicated). Later in the series she is complemented nicely by new girlfriend Sophie, who offers a good balance.

The Lindsay Gordon series is deliberately not as hard hitting as the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series. It is not as gritty nor disturbingly psychological. That does mean the books aren’t dark in their own right. The muderous storylines have their darksides, and Lindsay herself goes through some traumatic experiences in her quest to solve her cases.

However, they also incorporate humour, a lighter touch and fun. The relationship developments and non-murder stories are as interesting as the mysteries.

What makes these stories particularly readable is that each book is very different from the last, and they take differening direction, both plot wise and geographically. Each novel is adventurous and unpredictable, taking us on an unexpected journey. Ultimately they are thoroughly enjoyable stories that do cover some serious issues, and take on the establishment through the direction of the stories (I won’t post any spoliers here).

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