Black History Month started in 1976. Much focus has been placed on musicians, politicians, poets, activists, reformers, actors, and writers in the forty-four years of celebrating it. Discover Books is taking this opportunity to focus on mystery books by black authors. We present a sampling of talented African-American writers.
Christopher Darden is no stranger to murder and intrigue. He was a prosecutor in the O.J Simpson case but has since become a college law professor. His book In Contempt focuses on the intense relationships and off-camera issues of the O.J. Simpson trial.
Darden collaborated with author Dick Lochte to create The Trials of Nikki Hill series. It features Nikki Hill, an ambitious African-American attorney, and Mercer Early, a lawyer at the most prestigious African-American law firm on the West Coast.
Walter Mosely is one of the most recognized African-American mystery writers. He received the 2016 Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award. His books have the iconic African-American detective Easy Rawlins. The character is inspired by Mosley’s father’s experiences as a World War II veteran who moved from the South to Los Angeles in the 1940s.
Mosely has since created a second series, The Long Fall featuring Leonid McGill, a 50-year-old man with a past and is still left wondering what his future holds.
Eleanor Taylor Bland presents the first female African-American homicide detective to star in a series, Marti MacAlister. MacAlister is a former Chicago cop who has moved to the suburbs, following the apparent suicide of her policeman husband. She solves suburban crimes using urban smarts.
Chester Himes wrote the best-selling novel If He Hollers Let Him Go. Himes led a difficult life and found himself in prison at a young age. It was there that he began writing. After being paroled, fate put him in contact with Langston Hughes, who introduced him into the world of literature and publishing. Himes’ detectives are Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson, two New York City police detectives.
Next is Barbara Neely’s Blanche on the Lam series. Neely’s African-American sleuth is named Blanche White, a middle-aged maid working in North Carolina for a quirky white woman. Blanche juggles her job, her child-rearing duties, and her penchant for solving crimes.
Paula L. Woods believed there was a voice missing in the detective genre. She wanted a female cop that was “tough as nails but feminine enough to get her nails done.” Woods created the Charlotte Justice mysteries.
Finally, Frankie Y. Bailey is a professor in the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Albany. She created an amateur sleuth, Lizzie Stuart. Stewart is an African-American university professor and crime historian. After Lizzie came Hannah McCabe and her partner Mike Baxter. They are “regular” detectives solving crimes.
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