Kitty Pangborn & Dex Theroux

Created by Linda L. Richards

“Dex is tall and dreamy… Oh. Sure, he’s a mook, but he’s the kind of a mook that can heat a girl’s socks, if you follow my drift.”
—Kitty just might have a thing for her boss.

Once upon a time, a secretary was pretty much standard equipment for fictional private eyes, as much a part of the package as a trenchcoat, a gun, and an office bottle. Any dick worth his salt had one, loyal and true, to filter out undesirable clients, type letters, make appointments or simply to raise an eyebrow at the long-legged piece of trouble that just came waltzing in.

Sam Spade had Effie Perrine, Mike Hammer had his beloved Velda, Perry Mason had Della and even TV’s Joe Mannix had Peggy. But these days, secretaries are few and far between; an almost forgotten trope of the P.I. genre

Fortunately, journalist and author Linda L. Richards remembers, and has done something about it. In 2008, she took a break from her popular Madeline Carter series about a crime-solving stockbroker to give us Death Was the Other Woman, which introduced plucky, wise-cracking KITTY PANGBORN, long-suffering gal Friday to DEX THEROUX, a hard-drinking, hard-boiled, hard-luck shamus, who plies his trade in Depression-era Los Angeles.

But Richards didn’t just bring the amanuensis back into the P.I. fold–she made Kitty the star of the show.

SKitty is the one doing most of the deductive heavy lifting (and first person narration) here, while Dex boozes. It was a bold and audacious twist, and it resulted in a perfectly rendered period piece with a thoroughly modern feel, an instant classic that was both comfortably familiar and yet refreshingly new. Sure, Dex is a bit of a jerk, but Kitty thinks he’s worth saving. Besides, he’s “The kind that can get your lipstick melting.”

That sorta snappy patter can go a long way. I felt was a very promising debut.

And lo and behold, Kitty and Dex promptly returned in 2009 with Death Was in the Picture, and once more in 2013 with Death Was in the Blood.

Sadly, they haven’t returned since.


Linda Richards is a journalist and award-winning author, and the founding editor of January Magazine, the online literary review site.



Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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