The Adventures of Isabel by Candas Jane Dorsey, ECW Press

The Adventures of Isabel

Dorsey, Candas Jane

  • Book one in a new playful and trope-bending mystery series featuring a queer, nameless amateur detective.

    “Candas Jane Dorsey’s terrific mysteries are what would happen if Raymond Chandler and Frank N. Furter collaborated on cozies and the heroine were a pansexual private detective with heart, smarts, and a T-shirt saying MASCARA IS THE NEW NOIR.” — Sarah Smith, author of the New York Times Notable Book The Vanished Child.

    Rescued from torpor and poverty by the need to help a good friend deal with the murder of her beloved granddaughter, our downsized-social-worker protagonist and her cat, Bunnywit, are jolted into a harsh, street-wise world of sex, lies, and betrayal, to which they respond with irony, wit, intelligence (except for the cat), and tenacity. With judicious use of the Oxford comma, pop culture trivia, common mystery tropes, and a keen eye for deceit, our protagonist swaggers through the mean streets of — yes, a Canadian city! —  and discovers that what seems at first to be just a grotty little street killing is actually the surface of a grandiose and glittering set of criminal schemes.


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  • Candas Jane Dorsey is the award-winning author of Black Wine, A Paradigm of Earth, Machine Sex and Other Stories, Vanilla and Other Stories, and Ice and Other Stories. She is a writer, editor, former publisher, community advocate, and activist living in Edmonton, Alberta.

  • Published: October 2020

    ISBN: 9781770415553

    Dimensions: 5.25 x 8.25 in.

    Pages: 288


“From hanging out on street corners with prostitutes to attending glittering high-society charity balls with billionaire fraudsters, the always game protagonist proves herself to be a first-rate detective. Fans of unconventional mysteries will be richly rewarded.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Candas Jane Dorsey’s terrific mysteries are what would happen if Raymond Chandler and Frank N. Furter collaborated on cozies and the heroine were a pansexual private detective with heart, smarts, and a T-shirt saying MASCARA IS THE NEW NOIR. There’s female bonding, sex (lots of it), and a cat or two. You’ll scream with laughter, you’ll checkmark phrases. And then, if you’re a nice person and love your friends, you’ll put these books in their hands and insist they read them too.”  — Sarah Smith, author of the New York Times Notable Book The Vanished Child

“When Candas Jane Dorsey takes on a new genre, readers would do well to sit up and take notice. The Adventures of Isabel is smart and razor-sharp, with unforgettable characters and a plot that won’t let you go until the last page. You’re going to love it!”— E.C. Bell, author of the Marie Jenner Mystery Series

“If you’re looking to cruise with a Canadian Lisbeth Salander (think Dragon Tattoo) you may discover that Isabel’s adventures work for you” — Ottawa Review of Books

“Dorsey pushes the reader to confront their biases, but she serves this up alongside a hearty dose of humour, resulting in a work of fiction that both entertains and educates.” — Alberta Views

“A big name in the speculative fiction world, Dorsey’s turning her genre-bending powers to the mystery genre. In the hardboiled style of Raymond Chandler, The Adventures of Isabel features a queer, nameless (and witty) amateur detective whose first case is the murder of a friend’s beloved granddaughter.” — Edmonton Journal

“The characters themselves are nuanced and extremely likeable … in a novel where there is representation of so much diversity, including race, class, gender, sexuality, dis/ability, and physical appearance, one of the beautiful things about this story is that it feels like it leaves so much space for everyone.” — Topaz Literary blog

“Quick fire plotting, snappy dialogue and a love of hardboiled crime make this really entertaining.” — Crime Time

The Adventures of Isabel is a winner! The narrator’s voice alone is worth your time — which will be brief, because it’s a page-turner, and then when you’re done you’ll wish it had been longer. Add to that the characters, most of whom I promise you you’ve never met before, the multi-strand plot, and Bunnywit the cat, and you’ll thank me for recommending this book to you. The best part: it’s a series! There’ll be more!” — S.J. Rozan, bestselling author of Paper Son

“In The Adventures of Isabel, we see Candas Jane Dorsey obviously having as much fun writing as the reader will have reading. A little Hammett, a little Hiaasen, a little Lot 49, this is the first book in a series that demands to be read with writerly intention. Unlike Robbe-Grillet or Eco, Dorsey doesn’t want to destroy the detective novel with her postmodern take on the form. She seeks instead to shake the reader out of submission and into a clearer vision and examination of the underpinnings of the genre — the real crime and grime and meanness of the streets on which it’s set. The laughs are thrown in for free.” — Janice MacDonald, author of the Randy Craig Mystery series

“A strained but relentlessly clever read.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Brilliantly stylish, hilariously written and prone to an iconoclasm that breaks the fourth wall whenever our narrator has the urge, like the Asimov Robot novels or even 1974’s Chinatown, the point of the story isn’t so much “whodunit” as an intricate world-building.” — Edmonton Journal

“Brilliantly written, gender-and-genre bending, and immensely fun while nonetheless elegantly and insightfully touching on a variety of social issues.” — Greg Bechtel, author of Boundary Problems, for the Writers’ Trust of Canada

“ln the first installment of Candas Jane Dorsey’s postmodern, clever, and self-consciously mystery genre Epitome Apartments series, The Adventures of Isabel follows unnamed, snarky, grammar-conscious, tell-it-like-it-is bisexual social worker turned amateur detective. She unwittingly gets drawn into the mystery of her friend’s granddaughter’s death. Featuring an almost all queer cast!” — Autostraddle

“Wild, daft, silly, laugh-out-loud, phrase-stealingly wonderful … Loved it.” — Scene Magazine

“Any fan of the wise-ass wise-cracking hardboiled detective will find much to enjoy … Kudos for updating this approach to the mysteries of human relationships.” — Riva Lehrer, author of Golem Girl