My two favorite forum clowns.
Donna Leon is American and she's a lesbian.
(I've read nearly all of her books and have enjoyed most of them. She can get dreary on occasion, though, and lays police corruption on obsessively heavy, even if true. After a while, it just crosses over into the slapstick. The same with Andrea Camelleri, writer of another Italian detective series--and a real Italian--whose novellas I also mostly enjoy.)