It is hard to say exactly when women PIs were first conceived by authors. Various writers had created women characters involved in crime solving, e.g., Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, Dashiell Hammett's Nora Charles, etc. At some point women characters begin to obtain licenses to operate as PIs. Cordelia Gray was created by P.D. James in "An Unsuitable Job for a Woman" (copyright 1973), but the series did not seem to continue beyond a second novel. The earliest Sharon McCone short story in the present collection shows a copyright in 1981, but the author indicates the character was created in 1971 (I know from personal experience that it can take a significant period of time to get a story published - my first Mark Mandering story was in an ezine in 2005). At about the same time Kinsey Millhone was created by Sue Grafton (the reprint edition of "A is for Alibi" shows a 1982 copyright, but I am not sure when the character was created ). Other women PIs have been created along the way, e.g., Tess Monaghan by Laura Lippman, Tamara Hayle by Valerie Wilson Wesley, etc.
The present collection has 15 short stories about PI Sharon McCone, although the last one is a continuation of the first. After working for a PI firm, Miss McCone strikes out on her own and becomes the house investigator for a legal cooperative in San Francisco, although sometimes taking on independent cases. The character develops from story to story.
Sharon McCone has her own unique characteristics, sometimes carrying a gun, but usually not. The stories involve missing people, murders, burglary, and missing money: but one case is unique as she rescues a man who called a crisis center hotline. Miss McCone has a love life of sorts, which is kept in the background. Her home is described as a cottage in a constant state of repair, but not much other information is given. The cases are set either in San Francisco, or within commuting distance driving her used MG.
Overall, the stories are well written and have some very original plots. The length of the stories varies. They could be read in any order, but it is better to read them in the same order that they appear in the collection.