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.

In Contempt - Christopher Darden

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.

Murder Mystery -The Trials of Nikki Hill

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.

City buildings with lights in the background. Title of book The Long Fall by Walter Mosely in foreground in white text

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.

Orange left wavy border with green cover. Eleanor Taylor Bland See No Evil

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.

Purple Background with orange circle with Image imbedded

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. 

A house with white picket porch and an African American woman facing it. We only see the backside of her. She is wearing an orange short sleeved dress with her hair in a bun.

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. 

Woman walking on a wet sidewalk takes up the right side of the screen. Then on the left is a red awning in forefront with city building with neon signs to the top and across

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. 

White room wall with edge of window showing on left side of book cover. What the Fly Saw written bolding on the wall.

For more on Black History Month highlights read this post. If you are a mystery fan, try our History of Mysteries post.

R.E.A.D. RelaxEngage with the author, Activate your imagination, and Discover people, places, ideas, and cultures. You can find gently used books at the lowest prices. We cover shipping for the lower 48 states. Find inspiration for all your dreams at and Let The Stories Live On.

%d bloggers like this: