Bucket Nut, Monkey Wrench and Musclebound: the Eva Wylie trilogy.
Eva is not a resonable woman. She is society's nightmare of what happens to the ugly, uneducated, angry, neglected child when she grows up to be a big, strong, ugly woman. It's hard to be ugly in a world that values women for youth, beauty and shagability.
Eva thinks, if she thinks at all, that she has turned a minus into a plus by becoming a villain in the pantomime world of professional wrestling. It's a world where insults and violence are prized.
So warped is she that she counts the volume of boos, catcalls and rejection from the audience as signs of success. I am warped enough myself to see that as a feminist statement.
I have to admit too that I was a little fed up with people's expectations of private detectives and the perception that I was writing about a role model, a "good deed in a naughty world." And everyone seemed to want a "strong, female central character" from me. So I thought - if they want a strong woman, I'll give them one, but she isn't going to be anyone's idea of a role model. And along came Eva - shouting her head off.
At the time, the women's UK Wrestling Champion was Klondyke Kate - a woman who looked like an XL rain barrel in a leotard.
I first saw her snarling face on a poster, placed, coincidentally, next to a Max Factor poster advertising lipstick. The contrast was wonderful - the Max Factor woman was saying, "Love me, fancy me, envy me," while Kate in the wrestling poster was saying, "Get stuffed." An unusual message from a woman in an advertisement.
So I went to watch her fight and was thrilled to discover that our "champion" was a cheat and a dirty fighter. She totally demolished the crowd's favourite - a pretty-in-pink blonde - and was then disqualified for breaking every rule in the book.
She drove the crowd into a frenzy of rage and hatred, and I thought, "an ugly woman has no choice - she has to be the villain and somehow transmute hatred into love." Where most of us court approval, in order to succeed, a villain has to court hatred.
A little old man was so consumed with rage that he ran down to ringside. Emotion made him almost speechless and he couldn't think of an insult bad enough, until at last he screamed, "You... you... bucket nut!" Meaning, of course, that Kate was so ugly she had a face like a bucket. (Bucket Nut became the title of the first Eva book. So thanks, little old guy. Though your face wasn't anything to write home about either.)
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The Anna Lee series
The Eva Wylie series
The other stand-alone novel...
The story collections I co-edited for Britain's Crime Writers' Association.