#PICT: Pistols and Petticoats

Pistols and Petticoats

175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction

by Erika Janik

March 2nd 2017 Book Blast

Pistols and Petticoats by Erika Janik


A lively exploration of the struggles faced by women in law enforcement and mystery fiction for the past 175 years

In 1910, Alice Wells took the oath to join the all-male Los Angeles Police Department. She wore no uniform, carried no weapon, and kept her badge stuffed in her pocketbook. She wasn’t the first or only policewoman, but she became the movement’s most visible voice.

Police work from its very beginning was considered a male domain, far too dangerous and rough for a respectable woman to even contemplate doing, much less take on as a profession. A policewoman worked outside the home, walking dangerous city streets late at night to confront burglars, drunks, scam artists, and prostitutes. To solve crimes, she observed, collected evidence, and used reason and logic—traits typically associated with men. And most controversially of all, she had a purpose separate from her husband, children, and home. Women who donned the badge faced harassment and discrimination. It would take more than seventy years for women to enter the force as full-fledged officers.

Yet within the covers of popular fiction, women not only wrote mysteries but also created female characters that handily solved crimes. Smart, independent, and courageous, these nineteenth- and early twentieth-century female sleuths (including a healthy number created by male writers) set the stage for Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, Sara Paretsky’s V. I. Warshawski, Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta, and Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone, as well as TV detectives such as Prime Suspect’s Jane Tennison and Law and Order’s Olivia Benson. The authors were not amateurs dabbling in detection but professional writers who helped define the genre and competed with men, often to greater success.

Pistols and Petticoats tells the story of women’s very early place in crime fiction and their public crusade to transform policing. Whether real or fictional, investigating women were nearly always at odds with society. Most women refused to let that stop them, paving the way to a modern professional life for women on the force and in popular culture.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, NonFiction, History
Published by: Beacon Press
Publication Date: February 28th 2017 (1st Published April 26th 2016)
Number of Pages: 248
ISBN: 0807039381 (ISBN13: 9780807039380)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

With high heels clicking across the hardwood floors, the diminutive woman from Chicago strode into the headquarters of the New York City police. It was 1922. Few respectable women would enter such a place alone, let alone one wearing a fashionable Paris gown, a feathered hat atop her brown bob, glistening pearls, and lace stockings.

But Alice Clement was no ordinary woman.

Unaware of—or simply not caring about—the commotion her presence caused, Clement walked straight into the office of Commissioner Carleton Simon and announced, “I’ve come to take Stella Myers back to Chicago.”

The commissioner gasped, “She’s desperate!”

Stella Myers was no ordinary crook. The dark-haired thief had outwitted policemen and eluded capture in several states.

Unfazed by Simon’s shocked expression, the well-dressed woman withdrew a set of handcuffs, ankle bracelets, and a “wicked looking gun” from her handbag.

“I’ve come prepared.”

Holding up her handcuffs, Clement stated calmly, “These go on her and we don’t sleep until I’ve locked her up in Chicago.” True to her word, Clement delivered Myers to her Chicago cell.

Alice Clement was hailed as Chicago’s “female Sherlock Holmes,” known for her skills in detection as well as for clearing the city of fortune-tellers, capturing shoplifters, foiling pickpockets, and rescuing girls from the clutches of prostitution. Her uncanny ability to remember faces and her flair for masquerade—“a different disguise every day”—allowed her to rack up one thousand arrests in a single year. She was bold and sassy, unafraid to take on any masher, con artist, or scalawag from the city’s underworld.

Her headline-grabbing arrests and head-turning wardrobe made Clement seem like a character straight from Central Casting. But Alice Clement was not only real; she was also a detective sergeant first grade of the Chicago Police Department.

Clement entered the police force in 1913, riding the wave of media sensation that greeted the hiring of ten policewomen in Chicago. Born in Milwaukee to German immigrant parents in 1878, Clement was unafraid to stand up for herself. She advocated for women’s rights and the repeal of Prohibition. She sued her first husband, Leonard Clement, for divorce on the grounds of desertion and intemperance at a time when women rarely initiated—or won—such dissolutions. Four years later, she married barber Albert L. Faubel in a secret ceremony performed by a female pastor.

It’s not clear why the then thirty-five-year-old, five-foot-three Clement decided to join the force, but she relished the job. She made dramatic arrests—made all the more so by her flamboyant dress— and became the darling of reporters seeking sensational tales of corruption and vice for the morning papers. Dark-haired and attractive, Clement seemed to confound reporters, who couldn’t believe she was old enough to have a daughter much less, a few years later, a granddaughter. “Grandmother Good Detective” read one headline.

She burnished her reputation in a high-profile crusade to root out fortune-tellers preying on the naive. Donning a different disguise every day, Clement had her fortune told more than five hundred times as she gathered evidence to shut down the trade. “Hats are the most important,” she explained, describing her method. “Large and small, light and dark and of vivid hue, floppy brimmed and tailored, there is nothing that alters a woman’s appearance more than a change in headgear.”

Clement also had no truck with flirts. When a man attempted to seduce her at a movie theater, she threatened to arrest him. He thought she was joking and continued his flirtations, but hers was no idle threat. Clement pulled out her blackjack and clubbed him over the head before yanking him out of the theater and dragging him down the street to the station house. When he appeared in court a few days later, the man confessed that he had been cured of flirting. Not every case went Clement’s way, though. The jury acquitted the man, winning the applause of the judge who was no great fan of Clement or her theatrics.

One person who did manage to outwit Clement was her own daughter, Ruth. Preventing hasty marriages fell under Clement’s duties, and she tracked down lovelorn young couples before they could reach the minister. The Chicago Daily Tribune called her the “Nemesis of elopers” for her success and familiarity with everyone involved in the business of matrimony in Chicago. None of this deterred twenty-year-old Ruth Clement, however, who hoped to marry Navy man Charles C. Marrow, even though her mother insisted they couldn’t be married until Marrow finished his time in service in Florida. Ruth did not want to wait, and when Marrow came to visit, the two tied the knot at a minister’s home without telling Clement. When Clement discovered a Mr. and Mrs. Charles C. Marrow registered at the Chicago hotel supposedly housing Marrow alone, she was furious and threatened to arrest her new son-in-law for flouting her wishes. Her anger cooled, however, and Clement soon welcomed the newlyweds into her home.

Between arrests and undercover operations, Clement wrote, produced, and starred in a movie called Dregs of the City, in 1920. She hoped her movie would “deliver a moral message to the world” and “warn young girls of the pitfalls of a great city.” In the film, Clement portrayed herself as a master detective charged with finding a young rural girl who, at the urging of a Chicago huckster, had fled the farm for the city lights and gotten lost in “one of the more unhallowed of the south side cabarets.” The girl’s father came to Clement anegged her to rescue his innocent daughter from the “dregs” of the film’s title. Clement wasn’t the only officer-turned-actor in the film. Chicago police chiefs James L. Mooney and John J. Garrity also had starring roles. Together, the threesome battered “down doors with axes and interrupt[ed] the cogitations of countless devotees of hashish, bhang and opium.” The Chicago Daily Tribune praised Garrity’s acting and his onscreen uniform for its “faultless cut.”

The film created a sensation, particularly after Chicago’s movie censor board, which fell under the oversight of the police department, condemned the movie as immoral. “The picture shall never be shown in Chicago. It’s not even interesting,” read the ruling. “Many of the actors are hams and it doesn’t get anywhere.” Despite several appeals, Clement was unable to convince the censors to allow Dregs of the City to be shown within city limits. She remained undeterred by the decision. “They think they’ve given me a black eye, but they haven’t. I’ll show it anyway,” she declared as she left the hearing, tossing the bouquet of roses she’d been given against the window.

When the cruise ship Eastland rolled over in the Chicago River on July 24, 1915, Clement splashed into the water to assist in the rescue of the pleasure boaters, presumably, given her record, wearing heels and a designer gown. More than eight hundred people would die that day, the greatest maritime disaster in Great Lakes history. For her services in the Eastland disaster, Clement received a gold “coroner’s star” from the Cook County coroner in a quiet ceremony in January of 1916.

Clement’s exploits and personality certainly drew attention, but any woman would: a female crime fighter made for good copy and eye-catching photos. Unaccustomed to seeing women wielding any kind of authority, the public found female officers an entertaining—and sometimes ridiculous—curiosity.

Excerpt from Pistols and Petticoats: 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction by Erika Janik. Copyright © 2016 & 2017 by Beacon Press. Reproduced with permission from Beacon Press. All rights reserved.

Readers Are Loving Pistols and Petticoats!

Check out this awesome article in Time Magazine!

“Erika Janik does a fine job tracing the history of women in police work while at the same time describing the role of females in crime fiction. The outcome, with a memorable gallery of characters, is a rich look at the ways in which fact and fiction overlap, reflecting the society surrounding them. A treat for fans of the mystery—and who isn’t?” ~ Katherine Hall Page, Agatha Award–winning author of The Body in the Belfry and The Body in the Snowdrift

“A fascinating mix of the history of early policewomen and their role in crime fiction—positions that were then, and, to some extent even now, in conflict with societal expectations.” ~ Library Journal

“An entertaining history of women’s daring, defiant life choices.” ~ Kirkus Reviews

Author Bio:

authorErika Janik is an award-winning writer, historian, and the executive producer of Wisconsin Life on Wisconsin Public Radio. She’s the author of five previous books, including Marketplace of the Marvelous: The Strange Origins of Modern Medicine. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Catch Up With Our Ms. Janik On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Wisconsin Public Radio 🔗, & Twitter 🔗!


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Don’t Miss Your Chance to Win Pistols and Petticoats!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Erika Janik and Beacon. There will be 5 winners of one (1) print copy of Pistols and Petticoats by Erika Janik. The giveaway begins on March 3rd and runs through March 8th, 2017. The giveaway is open to residents in the US & Canada only.

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“Just don’t die.” One of my favorite three-word lines in Forbidden.

Would you like to read Forbidden For Free?


Click on the link below to Goodreads and

mark Forbidden as ‘want to read‘.


Then send me an email message. State you added Forbidden to your ‘to read’ list. I will reply to you and send Forbidden in mobi or pdf for free. Naturally, I hope you will read my five-gold-stars suspense/thriller/romance novel and ….

post an honest review at Amazon and Goodreads.

My email:  featherstone.author@gmail.com

You can read the first five chapters at Amazon.

Forbidden’s Book trailer


Eliza MacKay, chased by hitmen and corrupt government police.
Eliza MacKay, chased by hitmen and corrupt government police.

#Forbidden: Chapter One Short Video Excerpt

1-mosqueA quick treat for you, my dear readers. Here is a piece from the very first page of #Forbidden, a #suspense, #crime #novel. If you wish to sign up for news of my launch celebration, please contact me at: featherstone.author@gmail.com


The Qur’an, The Bible, And The Urge To Violence

M Akyol
Mustafa Akyol

The Qur’an, The Bible, And The Urge To Violence


Philip Jenkins’ September 2011 piece, “9/11: Did the Qur’an really make them do it?,” was an eye-opener on the touchy issue of religion and violence. For me it was also a reminder of an anti-Semitic piece of propaganda I found in an Istanbul bookstore years ago. With the conspiracy-mongering title, Judaism and Freemasonry, this was a crude volume — one that, among other things, claimed to explain “Israeli terrorism” in the light of the Hebrew Scriptures. It was full of photos showing Israeli soldiers attacking Palestinians, and presented huge captions that included verses from the Old Testament and especially the Book of Joshua. If the photograph showed Israelis breaking the bones of a Palestinian youngster — a globally notorious scene from the ‘80s — then the caption featured the biblical verse, “He shall break their bones” (Numbers 24: 8b, KJV). The book’s argument was blunt: The Israelis were torturing a nation because their God made them do it.

The more I learned about the Old Testament and the politics of the Middle East, the more I realized that what the book presented was not analysis but propaganda. It remains true that Israel’s 40-year-long occupation is a pretty brutal one, and that the Old Testament includes some belligerent passages, but the reality was far more complex. I noticed that Jewish religious sources also include many words of wisdom and compassion, and that there are many Jews who are willing to make peace with their Arab neighbors. Indeed, the militants who advocate and even practice violence in the name of Judaism are pretty marginal. Moreover, the source of their hatred is actually not the confrontational passages of the Torah, but the political and social situation that they are in. In other words, such militants turn angry and violent not because they read their religious texts. Rather, they focus on the harsher parts of those texts because they are already angry and violent for temporal — often political — reasons.

The sloganization of Scripture

I often recall my experience with that anti-Semitic book and the way it misread the Hebrew Scriptures because I see that more and more people are doing the same thing with the Qur’an. When Islamic terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda bomb innocents, or when some fringe imam in a radical mosque preaches hatred toward non-Muslims, greenhorn “Islam experts” find passages in the Qur’an that apparently justify such extremism. And, it turns out, these extremists themselves refer to similar passages in the Qur’an or other Islamic sources.

The situation is very similar to the strange agreement between the anti-Semites and the Jewish extremists on the incorrect notion that Judaism justifies carnage. One common problem in all such misreading of the Scriptures amounts to the “sloganization” of certain texts. This is done by taking a part of the holy text out of its textual and historical context, and turning it into a slogan that “justifies” a mundane political agenda. For example, some Islamic revolutionaries, especially those who were inspired by the Iranian Revolution of 1979, used to find a political message in this verse: “Those who do wrong will come to know by what a great reverse they will be overturned!” (26:227) But in fact the verse speaks about the punishment that God will hand down to unbelievers on judgment day, not about a this-worldly turn of events. The crucial mistake is to overlook Islam’s scholarly tradition called “tafseer,” which is the study of the meaning of the Qur’an. Tafseer has a basic rule: A single verse or passage can’t be understood in itself. Instead, it has to be evaluated according to the other parts of the Qur’an, the general goals and principles of the holy text, and the way it was implemented by the prophet.

Yet most radicals — be they Islamist or anti-Islamist — don’t have the time or the patience to “waste” on tafseer. They prefer to copy and paste the divine words to create powerful slogans for their immediate purposes.


Muslims and non-Muslims

For an example of sloganization, consider this Qur’anic verse, which is frequently quoted by Muslims who are hostile to other followers of the Abrahamic path: “O (Muslim) believers! Don’t make friends with the Jews or Christians” (5:51). But then look at this verse, which puts the one above in context: “(Muslims!) God does not forbid you from being good to those who have not fought you in religion or driven you from your homes, or from being just towards them. God loves those who are just. God merely forbids you from taking as friends those who have fought you in religion and driven you from your homes and who supported your expulsion. Any who take them as friends are wrongdoers” (60:8-9).

One can also add to the discussion the Qur’anic verse that declares that “all who have faith in God and the Last Day and act rightly,” including “those who are Jews, and the Christians,” will be rewarded by God in the afterlife (2:62). From this premise, it is quite possible to build a Muslim form of ecumenism, in which other monotheistic faiths are seen as sisters, not enemies. In short, if one looks at the Qur’an with a pre-existing aversion to non-Muslims, one can find verses that will justify and amplify this attitude. But if one looks with a more sober mind, one can see the contexts of those particular verses — and even find arguments for peace and tolerance.

Islam without extremes

41uD184GByL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_That’s why, as I argue in my new book, Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty, we have to look not only at the texts of Islam, but also at the contexts of Muslims. The texts are of course not unimportant — contrary to what an absolute sociological reductionist might claim — but they are always interpreted in the light of pre-existing cultures and mindsets. That is why more rigid schools of Islam have generally emerged in more culturally isolated and parochial locales, while more flexible and liberal schools of theology have tended to arise in more cosmopolitan centers of commerce. And that is why the decline of rationality and liberty in late medieval Islam was very much linked with the decline of economic dynamism, and the dawn of a “liberal Islam” is now especially evident in more cosmopolitan Muslim societies. If one dismisses all such nuances, and looks at an alien faith only to see its deficiencies, one can find plenty of ways to denounce that alien faith and venerate one’s own. But as I learned from my encounter with anti-Semitic literature in that Istanbul bookstore some years ago, that is not the way to understand the world — or change it for the better.

[Originally published in Contending Modernities]

Forbidden: Allah’s Wrath Versus Family Loyalty

Captain Sharif ‘s choice. Protect his family = his soul will be damned. Follow Allah = loss of family

What evCaptain Khaner your chosen religion or beliefs, have you had to make a decision that was in direct conflict with those ‘rules’? What if your life depended upon stepping away from those sacred tenants. Could you sacrifice your soul for the higher good of another? Even for someone you don’t know?

Sacrifice of the self, in the mind of the One Most High, may be the ultimate expression of love and devotion to God. It may be the song angels sings and to which gurus aspire. Does Allah, God, Buddha, et al have such high expectations to prove our obedience to the law of creation, heaven, even to attain immortality?

Yes, most of us would sacrifice our life for a child. I know I’d put my life on the line for one of my animals. Yes, crazy pet lover. But love is love. Where would I draw the line? For an animal I don’t know? An injured bird struggling in the center lane of a freeway? If I want to sleep peacefully that night, I would make the attempt.iStock_000015136153_XXXLarge

Captain Sharif had his orders. Execute the prisoner. If he fails to comply, his family will be in dire peril. If his loyalty to his superiors is in doubt, his death will be the least of his worries. The thing is, he doesn’t know her. As far as he’s concerned Eliza could be a criminal, a spy or killer, a woman of ill repute, maybe deserving of harsh punishment. His superiors have the security and honor of RIPT in their hands. Perhaps she has jeopardized the future of his nation.

And yet, having observed her for ten minutes in the compound of his police station, he witnessed something more profound than the first breath of his newborn son. In an instant, Captain Sharif knows he will go to the wall for her. He must. Even if Allah damns his soul for eternity.