The four genres of lesbian fiction – No.1: The dyke-tective novel

This category of fiction starts something like this:

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Detective Sam MacDonald had just stepped out of the shower when her mobile phone rang. Rubbing her head with a towel, she looked at the display. It was the station.

“Damn.”

It was Sunday, her day off. She had just completed a gruelling three mile run and was looking forward to treating herself to bacon and eggs at the cafe on the corner. She had the feeling that brunch was going to have to wait. Sighing, she dried an ear and answered the phone.

“Sam. It’s Jack.”

Detective Jack Gallows, her partner in the force, was a gruff, bear of a man who had a reputation with the criminal classes of being the cop you didn’t want on the other side of the interview table. Outside of work, he was happily married with two young children he adored. His wife, Sandy, had rescued him from an alcoholic spiral of depression, started after he lost his buddy of twelve years, Detective Pete Henderson, in a shooting. Jack had been sober for five years thanks to Sandy’s support, and was now strictly teetotal.

“It’s my day off, Jack.”

“I know. I’m sorry. Things are moving faster on the Walker case than we’d anticipated. You need to come in.”

Jack, Sam, and the team had spent months piecing together the chain that linked Monty Walker to a vice ring that was smuggling girls into the country from the Ukraine. The case was nearing its conclusion. From a bugged phone call made by Walker, they knew that an HGV from the east was due into Dover this week. They needed to stop it as Walker took possession, catching him red-handed. Obviously, the transport was on its way.

“OK. I’ll be -” Sam looked at the clock on the wall. “- half an hour.”

“Great. See you then.”

“Oh, and Jack, you owe me a bacon and egg butty.”

“How do you work that out?”

“Nevermind.”

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Sam is that ever-popular lesbian fantasy – a tough loner, unlucky in love, with a dry wit, and a soft centre. She wears tailored suits that show off her physically fit figure. She lets her mouth run off when she sees injustice being done, but handles life and death situations with a calm, cool head. She protects everyone around her until she finds herself unable to do so for reasons outside of her control. She is licensed to carry a gun. And, that’s her problem.

We know already that, at some point, Sam will take a bullet. Jack will have flashbacks to his partner, Pete, and it will be up to “Freya”, let’s say, to put Sam back together. Freya is the antithesis to Sam. She wears her heart on her sleeve. She is open and caring, feminine, soft, and beautiful. Freya could be a hostage, a doctor, a girl caught in the vice ring, or all three, but when her path crosses Sam’s sparks fly. Freya believes in love, Sam has been burned too many times. And, that provides enough will-they-won’t-they momentum to keep the reader hooked.

As Sam’s bullet wound heals, Freya heals the inner Sam who won’t trust her heart to anyone. When Freya and Sam finally get it together, in the shower, on a beach, in the back of an HGV, it is the best, most compatible, mutually satisfying sex in the world. Sam is convinced to “let Freya in” and Freya’s, and the reader’s, frustration is resolved.

Exponents of this genre of novel include V. L. McDermid (Lindsay Gordon series), Radclyffe (Honor series), Katherine V Forrest (Kate Delafield series), Claire McNab (Carol Ashton series).

Copyright © 2012 Liberation Publishing (www.liberationpublishing.co.uk)

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