The Female Detective was published in 1864 and it introduces the first professional female detective in British fiction, Mrs Gladden. Typical of detective fiction of its time, Forrester's book features various cases narrated by Gladden, whose deductive methods and energetic approach anticipate those of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. Mrs Gladden uses similar methods to her male counterparts - she enters scenes of crime incognito, tracking down killers while trying to conceal her own tracks and her identity from others. She does much physical detective work, examining scenes of crime, looking for clues and employing all manner of skill, subterfuge, observation and charm to achieve her ends. Like Holmes, Gladden regards the regular constabulary with disdain. For all the intrigue and interest of the stories, little is ever revealed about Mrs Gladden herself, and her personal circumstances remain a mystery throughout. But it is her ability to apply her considerable energy and intelligence to solve crimes that is her greatest appeal, and the reappearance of the original lady detective will be welcomed by fans of crime fiction.
Andrew Forrester is the pseudonym of James Redding Ware (1832-c.1909). During his early career he wrote a number of detective stories, including Secret Service, or, Recollections of a City Detective and Revelations of the Private Detective.