Dark Passages: Where Few Men Dare to Tread

My newest column for the LA Times looks at recent crime fiction involving, shall we say, damaged women who are still strong enough to overcome their pasts and take some control of their future. Here’s how it opens:

The phenomenal and deserved worldwide success of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy — the second book, “The Girl Who Played With Fire,”

was published in the U.S. earlier this week — has people paying close

attention not only to the book’s heroine, Lisbeth Salander, but to

girls and women just like her.

In other words, females who veer 180 degrees from playing second

banana to men and are strong, capable decision-makers. They don’t let

the baggage of brutal childhoods and emotional damage keep them from

their quests, and, as Chicago Tribune cultural critic Julia Keller

wrote in a column earlier this month,

“They’re not meek. They’re not mild. They do as they please and they

don’t play well with others. They’re misfits with moxie.” And they

don’t have to apologize for their behavior — not much, anyway.

Read on for the rest, including my take on Karin Slaughter’s UNDONE and Teri Coyne’s THE LAST BRIDGE.