Like other fictional characters, female sleuths may live in the past or the future. They may represent current times with some level of reality or shape their settings to suit an agenda. There are audiences for both realism and escapism in the mystery novel. It is interesting, however, to compare the fictional world of the mystery sleuth with the world in which readers live. Of course, mystery readers do not share one simplistic world. They live in urban, suburban, and rural areas, as do the female heroines in the books they read. They may choose a book because it has a familiar background or because it takes them to places they long to visit. Readers may be rich or poor; young or old; conservative or liberal. So are the heroines. What incredible choices there are today in mystery series! This three-volume encyclopedia of women characters in the mystery novel is like a gigantic menu. Like a menu, the descriptions of the items that are provided are subjective.
Volume 3 of Mystery Women as currently updated adds an additional 42 sleuths to the 500 plus who were covered in the initial Volume 3. These are more recently discovered sleuths who were introduced during the period from January 1, 1990 to December 31, 1999. This more than doubles the number of sleuths introduced in the 1980s (298 of whom were covered in Volume 2) and easily exceeded the 347 series (and some outstanding individuals) described in Volume 1, which covered a 130-year period from 1860-1979. It also includes updates on those individuals covered in the first edition; changes in status, short reviews of books published since the first edition through December 31, 2008.