Books with female protagonist, male antagonist
February 7, 2015 11:55 PM   Subscribe

Just finished and really enjoyed both seasons of The Fall on Netflix and realized that one of the things I liked about it was the female protagonist/male antagonist dynamic. What are some books I might enjoy with a similar set up?

Doesn't necessarily have to be as dark and serious as The Fall, but the main character should be a strong female character, and the bad guy or villain should be a dude. Good writing would be nice. And a little sexual tension never hurt anyone.

posted by imalaowai to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Not a book, but you should watch Top of the Lake if you haven't already. It's even on Netflix!
posted by asphericalcow at 11:59 PM on February 7, 2015 [11 favorites]

The silence of the lambs should be right up your alley, but it's very well-known so you've probably read it already.
posted by rjs at 12:21 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Prime Suspect
posted by a lungful of dragon at 12:31 AM on February 8, 2015

Seconding Prime Suspect. It's pretty much what The Fall is copying.
posted by qwip at 1:44 AM on February 8, 2015

Also not a book, but The Politician's Husband (tv drama on Netflix) has that female protagonist/male antagonist dynamic.
posted by ana scoot at 1:47 AM on February 8, 2015

You might enjoy William Gibson's Blue Ant trilogy (Pattern Recognition (2003), Spook Country (2007) and Zero History (2010)). Most of his novels have strong female characters if they're not the main protagonist.
posted by humboldt32 at 3:14 AM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness and The Immortals series, but most of her Tortall books, actually.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 3:25 AM on February 8, 2015

I think Sara Paretsky's VI Warschawski books are some of the finest mystery novels being written out there. Her PI protagonist is a woman, and most of the bad guys she tracks down are men. Her writing is definitely more careful and thoughtful than most other mystery novels.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:30 AM on February 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Not a book, but you should watch Top of the Lake if you haven't already. It's even on Netflix!

Also on Netflix/Amazon are shows like The Killing, Broadchurch, Dicte, and Happy Valley, among others, that aren't as arty as Top of the Lake but are good and have strong women leads.

Silence of the Lambs was mentioned, but it bears repeating as a great example of what you are asking about. I wasn't personally a fan, but the Steig Larsson Lisbeth Salander would qualify as well (and have film adaptations as well).
posted by Dip Flash at 7:17 AM on February 8, 2015

I enjoyed girl with a dragon tattoo the first is the best in my estimation. I also just recently read a number of books by Tana french, some of which have a female protagonist -those were the best in my opinion. I'm also linking below to a list from the good reads site with a good selection with your specifications. I know good reads has been controversial since the amazon takeover but the reviews and ratings have been really valuable to me in finding wonderful things I wouldn't otherwise know about.

posted by bluesky43 at 7:18 AM on February 8, 2015

Also not a book but you might enjoy the Swedish/Danish original version of the Bridge.
posted by barnone at 7:19 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Happy Valley? Yes!
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:03 AM on February 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Denise Mina writes nothing but books that fall into this description. The one distinction is that her protagonists tend to be strong despite self doubt or other human flaws.
posted by janey47 at 9:18 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by mkultra at 11:00 AM on February 8, 2015

the french tv series Spiral is also good
posted by rowboat at 1:03 PM on February 8, 2015

Denisa Mina, yes. Tana French, yes, The Likeness most closely fits your criteria; you might enjoy her other books, but they do not tick your various boxes. Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty.
posted by sideofwry at 1:06 PM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Well, if the protagonist and the antagonist don't have to be interacting much then I'd strongly recommend Broken Monsters and The Shining Girls (both by Lauren Beukes who I think is an excellent writer). I think you can find this in several of Minette Walters' book as well--I haven't read all of them but those that I have were dark, fun, quick reads.
posted by pie_seven at 3:14 PM on February 8, 2015

Nthing Happy Valley. Great series.
posted by holborne at 3:25 PM on February 8, 2015

Ooh Yes Apple Tree Yard is great! I listened to it as an audiobook and I think Juliet Stevenson's narration kicked it up a notch or two for me.
posted by janey47 at 4:04 PM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Pretty different from The Fall (which I also loved), but this does describe The Hunger Games, ultimately.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:13 PM on February 8, 2015

Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein
WWII. Framing device is the interrogation of a young woman spy by a Gestapo officer.

Vixen - Rosie Garland
14th century. Literary, lyrical historical fiction.
posted by Morfil Ffyrnig at 6:11 AM on February 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm setting myself up as MeFi's resident Joe Abercrombie shill, but his "Best Served Cold" fits this bill and is a ripping good fantasy-ish read.
posted by Smells of Detroit at 9:36 AM on February 9, 2015

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