A concise introduction on the history of female spies and detectives on TV precedes alphabetical entries on the series and characters covered. Major characters are accorded separate entries; secondary figures are cross referenced to the shows in which they appear. Coverage is limited to shows that have appeared on American television, whether network, cable, or syndicated. Thus, quite a few British plus some Canadian and Australian series are included. To be considered, a character must actually perform some investigative or espionage function; apparently this accounts for the absence of Della Street of the Perry Mason series, a decision many may disagree with. An appendix annotates some of the “most rewatchable” series available on DVD, among them seasons of Honey West, Cagney & Lacey, McMillan and Wife, Remington Steele, Rizzoli & Iles, and Rosemary & Thyme.
The clear and respectful coverage of the 1950s underlines the author’s meticulousness and sense of history. The first season of The Adventures of Superman (1952-53), in which Phyllis Coates appeared as probing reporter Lois Lane, is credited with a “noir sensibility...directed at an adult audience.” Pamela North, as played by Barbara Britton in Mr. and Mrs. North beginning in 1952, is deemed a better detective than her husband or their police contact. Even more significant, the short-lived Decoy: Police Woman (1957-58) starred Beverly Garland as TV’s pioneer female cop.