While reading, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, by P.D. James and Indemnity Only, by Sara Paretsky, one is given the opportunity to slip in to the life of a female private detective and experience the aspects of what occurs during the process of a murder investigation as seem through the eyes of two very independent women. P.D. James’s character of Cordelia Gray and Sara Paretsky’s character of V.I. Warshawski are two private investigators that display great passion for their jobs and will stop at nothing in order to close their cases. But, are inexperienced Cordelia Gary and wisecracking Warshawski prime examples of private investigators or are they two naive women who have entered an occupation where compassion and sympathy are two traits that are better left unused.
Both Cordelia and Warshawski display great ability as women to enter a world of hate, lies and murder and take on roles that traditionally only men dared to enter. But, as they sift though evidence left behind by unknown assailants and pry into the lives of dead and living strangers, are these women really living lives of their own or are they becoming to emotionally entangled in a web of self destruction. Putting their lives in harms way in search of justice, an oath that they as private detectives have never took.
Both women are clearly excellent detectives; they solved their cases and reaped the self-gratification that comes from hard work and determination. In spite of that, are these two women really doing themselves any justice by restraining from the certain pleasures in life they yearn to experience and enjoy but have sustained from due to the career choice they have chosen, as seem in Cordelia’s reflection of what her life may have been like if she had chosen to attend an university and Warshawski’s reflection in the park of the mother and her children. Both women are still at an age where these reflections can still become reality, yet they have chosen to continue pursuing a career that hampers their ability to achieve these personal goals.
Maybe their becoming to emotionally involved in their cases is a result of their search for a way to compensate for the void their career choice has left in their lives. Both Cordelia and Warshawski became a little too preoccupied with their cases. Cordelia became so involved she was sleeping in the same house in which the murder occurred, not to mention the same bed as the deceased and she even began wearing the clothes of the young man whom she was investigating the murder of. She took trips with his friends and ate dinner with his family.
Warshawski on the other hand took the sister of the young man whom she was in search of the murderer of and took her under her wing, even let her spend a few days at a friends, in order to allow her some breathing room from her family. To top it all off she began a sexual relationship with someone she had not even ruled out as a suspect yet. These two women not only stepped way over the line of what would be seen as professional, they totally forgot over it and let their emotions get in the way of making clear judgments. Cordelia knew she was making a choice that went against what a rigid detective would do. She even thought of Bernie, her mentor when the time came to make her decision on whether or not to tell the facts of the crime. She thought to herself of what notion Bernie would of taken on the matter, ” To him the moral dilemma at the heart of the crime would have seemed a willful confusion of straightforward facts” (281). But, again maybe this is what separates the female private investigator from the male private investigator.
Maybe, perhaps only a thing a female detective would do? Would a law enforcement agency investigator barge in on an a situation such as these and become so close with the loved ones of the deceased, unless of course they had a search warrant or perhaps developed a new approach to gathering evidence. Would they work alone on such dangerous cases? Would they cover up the evidence of a murder because of empathy towards the assailant, such as Cordelia did for Miss Leaming? Would a murder go left untold and a suicide replace the truth, if a police detective had solved the crime?
Perhaps there are some advantages to being a private investigator rather then an investigator working for a police agency. As a private detective there is an opportunity to development relationships with the victims and suspects that are close and personal, in order in gather evidence, that would be seem as in ethical by a department. Also, time allows for the private investigator to work solely on one case at a time, unlike a police detective who may be juggling quite a large caseload. But, as a private detective there arises the question as to what is ethical and what is not. Was Cordelia’s choice to cover up Sir Ronald’s murder ethical? Was Warshawski’s choice to enter the apartment without permission and withhold valuable evidence from law enforcement ethical?
The real question on hand is not whether private investigators take away from law enforcement or if women should or should not be in the career of investigations. It’s whether or not there is a personal duty to uphold the law, whether the detective is employed privately or publicly and should that investigator put a side his or her emotions in the name of justice.