I am also possibly still a little delirious, because I've been very ill and also working to deadline.
So in the name of 2012's excitement, terror and potential delirium--my first lady sleuth choice for 2012 is a very modern one.
It is a lady from a book published in 2010. It is Georgia Mason, from Mira Grant's Feed.
(This is not a cover of Feed but some lovely fanart of Georgia and her brother Shaun, chosen because in it Georgia is looking super cool and reporter-y. Both pieces used here can be found via this link: http://feed-fanclub.deviantart.com/gallery/)
I already expressed my love for this book and its premise (Zombie Apocalypse in which only bloggers report the news of the zombie apocalypse reliably, the world is changed forever!) describing it as the ideal zombie book for nerds.
I also wrote out some crazy dialogue, as is my way, for our heroine.
GEORGIA: I have zombiefied eyes so must wear sunglasses, a dry wit and a relentless commitment to the truth. Also, I am named after George Romero... the saviour of mankind.
Yes, George Mason is a snarky internet journalist. She's the one who's ice-cool under pressure and sharply professional (unlike her brother Shaun, the thrill-seeker who runs around in a cardigan). She has an in-book excellent reason to always wear sunglasses, dark clothes, and in our first introduction to her, she drives a motorcycle off a makeshift ramp over the heads of slavering zombies, with her brother cheering on the back of her motorcycle. Which pretty much cements the fact that she's the badass. Her determined pursuit of her goals is what drives the plot of this book.
Here are some things she actually says in the book...
"Get your opinions the hell away from my news."
"I've merely engaged in standard journalistic practice. He entrapped himself."
“I am, in fact, immortal when annoyed.”
"Now you've insulted our patriotism, our sanity and our intelligence, how about we move on?"
"Everything is 'just a story.' Tragedy, comedy, end of the world, whatever, it's just a story. What matters is making sure it's heard."
George Mason is a lady who knows what she wants. She asks for what she wants repeatedly, and she really thinks she can handle it. She is correct.
“The difference between the truth and a lie is that both of them can hurt, but only one will take the time to heal you afterward.”
“You can't kill the truth.”
"You tell the truth as you see it, and you let the people decide whether to believe you. That's responsible reporting."
“I wanted the truth, and I wanted the news, and I'd be damned before I settled for anything less.”
Once she gets the truth, she knows what to do with it: share it.
(Another fanart, this time of Georgia in her rarely-used electric-blue-and-spooky contact lenses, making a face. When the rest of the world makes that face thinking 'THE PRESS' George makes that face almost constantly thinking 'THE REST OF THE WORLD.')
But she is not a badass lady who cares for nothing but her mission: she cares very much about her friends: asks for their opinions, supports their romantic decisions, and when they are infected with a zombie virus she shoots them in the head. (What more can one ask for?)
She loves Shaun very much, and is able to talk about the importance of love to her.
"Shaun's the only thing that concerns me more than the truth does."
And in return he says this about her, which I am pretty sure goes for both of them:
“… At the end of the day, there’s got to be somebody you’re doing it for. Just one person you’re thinking of every time you make a decision, every time you tell the truth, or tell a lie, or anything.
I’ve got mine. Do you?”
And when put to the test, Georgia Mason proves that she entirely believes in everything she has said.
George Mason is infected with the zombie virus, and while dying, she writes an article to be thrown up on the web revealing the plot that led to her own death.
"They made a mistake in killing me because, alive or dead, the truth won't rest...
... my name is my name is Shaun I love you"
It increased my love for Georgia greatly, that she wrote this article at all, and that some of her last words were a commentary (by the author, I mean, George wasn't really up for commentary on this point) about true names, and about identity and what defines you.
Justine Larbalestier was like 'Clever idea to do a Sleuth Thursday, because both your heroines in 2012 are sleuths.'
At which point I was like 'Oh... of COURSE Mel of Team Human is also a sleuth!' (I almost never do clever things on purpose.) I knew that, because she does a lot of sleuth stuff, which is fun to write. But she is sleuthing for love of her friend, to protect someone she loves, rather than for a story. A classic sleuthing reason of course. It is the reason inspiring our next sleuth heroine, Marian of A Woman In White.
There's also thrill seeking: Kami of Unspoken is having fun, because someone in a Gothic novel should be, this stuff is crackers! Nancy Drew, also a fun-loving girl. That's why her dad keeps saying to her 'Oh, no more solving crimes for you, Nancy' in the same way a father might forbid any treat: 'no more late nights, you little scoundrel and I mean it, no more jazz hands till dawn, midnight movie showings or assisting in the apprehension of criminals!'
George Mason sleuths for the same reason Lois Lane (also kind of a thrill-seeker) and Lynda Day do--because it is her job.
And because she has a passion for the story, for the truth of a situation and a particular way of telling it. I think everyone who loves books can understand that.
So there's a lot of overlap with all sleuths' motivations - story, love, thrills. It's usually at least one of those three.
In fact for me, with most characters I love, one of their main motivations is love.
In the words of Philip Larkin, from one of my favourite poems, An Arundel Tomb, about death and identity and time and love--'Prove our almost-instinct almost true: What will survive of us is love.'
That's what makes a character live on in my head long after the book is shut. And also cry on airplanes, damn it, Georgia Mason.