Supper Sleuths

African American Detectives

The issues that face African-American detectives and crime solvers are the same ones that white sleuths face while also dealing with the social problems that real life African Americans face. According to NoveList writer Dorothy Broderick, in the early days of mysteries containing African-American detectives, much of the focus was on the antagonism their presence invoked in their white co-workers. In most modern titles, their presence is taken for granted and they are allowed to be good at their jobs without having to fight the establishment (NoveList 9/27/05).

According to Paula L. Woods (author of the Charlotte Justice series) and editor of the anthology, Spooks, Spies, and Private Eyes, the “foremother of African American mysteries is Pauline E. Hopkins”, who wrote “Talma Gordon,” a locked room mystery short story in 1900. The first mystery novel to feature African American characters set in a black community was The Conjure-man Dies: A Mystery Tale of Dark Harlem (1932) by Rudolph Fisher. Hughes Allison’s police procedural “Corollary” (1948) was the first mystery story by an African American to be published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Woods states in her anthology’s introduction, that Hughes’s story “also reflects a harsher reality and highlights the role of the detective, Joe Hill, as an intermediary between black and white cultures” (xvi).

Chester Himes developed his hard-boiled Harlem detectives in the same vein as Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett leading the way for modern writers like Walter Mosley, known for his Easy Rawlins series that takes place in the 1940s to 1960s. Modern-day Los Angeles is reflected in the works of Gar Anthony Haywood’s Aaron Gunner series and Gary Phillips’s Ivan Monk series. Fans of Paretsky and Grafton will enjoy Chassie West’s DC cop Leigh Ann Warren. Cozy readers may want to start with Barbara Neely & Nora DeLoach. Evanovich fans may enjoy Valerie Wilson Wesley’s Newark-based Tamara Hayle.

The accompanying list contains detectives—amateur or professional. Journalists and academics have been left off this list because they are represented on the Investigative Reporters and Campus Crimes lists.

Thank you to Beebe Reference Librarian Beth Radcliffe for her thorough research on this list.

The following is a list of titles by author. Whenever possible, the series is in order of publication date. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and please let us know if you feel that a title should be here. Please read one or more titles, and come prepared to discuss your impressions of them with the group.

John Dudley Ball Virgil Tibbs In the Heat of the Night (1965)
Cool Cottontail (1966)
Johnny Get Your Gun (1969)
Five Pieces of Jade (1972)
Eyes of Buddha (1976)
Then Came Violence (1980)
Singapore (1986)
George Baxt Pharoah Love Queer Kind of Death. (1966)
Sweet Love, Sweet Harriet. Not in NOBLE (1967)
Topsy and Evil. Not in NOBLE (1968)
Queer Kind of Love. (1994)
Queer Kind of Umbrella. (1995)
Eleanor Taylor Bland Marti MacAlister Dead Time. (1992)
Slow Burn. (1993)
Gone Quiet. (1994)
Done Wrong. (1994)
Keep Still. (1995)
See No Evil. (1996)
Tell No Tales. (1999)
Scream in Silence. (2000)
Whispers in the Dark. (2001)
Windy City Dying. (2002)
Fatal Remains. (2003)
Cold and Silent Dying. (2004)
Dark and Deadly Reception. (2005)
Charlotte C.Carter Nanette Hayes

Cassandra Perry
Rhode Island Red (1997)
Coq Au Vin (1999)
Drumsticks (2000)
Jackson Park (2003)
Trip Wire (2005)
Nora DeLoach Candi & Simone
Mama Solves a Murder (1993)
Mama Traps a Killer (1995)
Mama Saves a Victim (1997)
Mama Stands Accused. Not in NOBLE. (1997)
Mama Stalks the Past (1997)
Mama Rocks the Empty Cradle Mama Pursues Murderous Shadows Mama Cracks a Mask of Innocence
Grace Edwards Mali Anderson If I Should Die (1997)
Toast Before Dying (1998)
No Time to Die (1999)
Do or Die (2000)
Viaduct (2004)
Earl Emerson Thomas Black Rainy City. Not in NOBLE. OOP. (1985)
Poverty Bay (1985)
Nervous Laughter (1985)
Fat Tuesday (1987)
Deviant Behavior (1988)
Yellow Dog Party (1991)
Portland Laughter (1994)
Vanishing Smile (1995)
Million Dollar Tattoo (1996)
Deception Pass (1997)
Catfish Cafe (1998)
Terris McMahan Grimes Theresa Galloway Somebody Else's Child (1996)
Blood Will Tell (1997)
Barbara Hambly Benjamin January Free Man of Color. (1997)
Fever Season. (1998)
Graveyard Dust. (1999)
Sold Down the River. (2000)
die Upon a Kiss. (2001)
Wet Grave. (2002)
Days of the Dead. (2003)
Dead Water. (2004)
David Handler Berger & Mitry Cold Blue Blood (2001)
Hot Pink Farmhouse (2002)
Bright Silver Star (2003)
Burnt Orange Sunrise (2004)
Gary Hardwick Tony Hill
Danny Cavanaugh
Cold Medina (1996)
Color of Justice (2002)
Teddy Hayes Devil Barnett Blood Red Blues (2004)
Dead By Popular Demand (2005)
Gar Anthony Haywood Aaron Gunner

Joe & Dottie
Fear of the Dark (1988)
Not Long for This World (1990)
You Can Die Trying (1993)
It's Not a Pretty Sight (1996)
When last Seen Alive (1997)
All the Lucky Ones Are Dead (1999)
Going Nowhere Fast (1994)
Bad News Travels Fast (1995)
Reginald Hill Joe Sixsmith Blood Sympathy (1994)
Born Guilty (1995)
Killing the Lawyers (1997)
Singing the Sadness (1999)
James Hime Clyde Thomas Night of the Dance (2003)
Scared Money (2004)
Chester B.Himes Grace Digger Jones &
Coffin Ed Johnson
Rage in Harlem (1957)
Real Cool Killers (1959)
Crazy Kill Not in NOBLE (1959)
Big Gold Dream Not in NOBLE (1960)
All Shot Up Not in NOBLE (1960)
Cotton Comes to Harlem (1965)
Heat's On (1966)
Blind Man With a Pistol (1969)
Hugh Holton Larry Cole Presumed Dead (1994)
Windy City (1995)
Chicago Blues (1996)
Violent Crimes (1997)
Red Lightning (1998)
Left Hand of God (1999)
Time of the Assassins (2000)
Devil's Shadow (2001)
Criminal Element (2002)
Glenville Lovell Blades Overstreet Too Beautiful to Die (2003)
Love and Death in Brooklyn (2004)
Richard Lupoff Marvia Plum Comic Book Killer Not in NOBLE. OOP. (1989)
Classic Car Killer Not in NOBLE. OOP. (1991)
Bessie Blue Killer (1994)
Sepia Siren Killer Not in NOBLE. (1994)
Cover Girl Killer (1995)
Silver Chariot Killer
(Only Hobart Lindsey)(1997)
Radio Red Killer (1997)
One Murder at a Time: The Casebook of Lindsey and Plum.
Not in NOBLE. (2001)
Penny Mickelbury Carole Ann Gibson One Must Wait (1998)
Where to Choose (1999)
Step Between (2000)
Paradise Interrupted (2001)
Walter Mosley Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins

Fearless Jones
Devil in a Blue Dress (1990)
Red Death (1991)
White Butterfly (1992)
Black Betty (1994)
Little Yellow Dog (1996)
Gone Fishin' (1997)
Walking the Dog (1998)
Bad Boy Brawly Brown (2002)
Six Easy Pieces: Short Stories (2003)
Little Scarlet (2004)
Cinnamon Kiss (2005)
Fearless Jones (2001)
Fear Itself (2003)
Barbara Neely Blanche White Blanche on the Lam (1992)
Blanche Among the Talented Tenth (1994)
Blanche Cleans Up (1998)
Blanche Passes Go (2000)
Kris Nelscott Smokey Dalton Dangerous Road (2000)
Smoke-Filled Rooms (2001)
Thin Walls (2002)
Stone Cribs (2004)
War at Home (2005)
P.J. Parrish Louis Kincaid Dark of the Moon (1999)
Dead of the Winter (2001)
Paint It Black (2002)
Thicker Than Water (2003)
Island of Bones (2004)
Killing Rain (2005)
James Patterson Alex Cross Along Came a Spider (1993)
Kiss the Girls (1995)
jack and Jill (1996)
Cat & Mouse (1997)
Pop Goes the Weasel (1999)
Roses Are Red (2000)
Violets Are Blue (2001)
Four Blind Mice (2002)
Big Bad Wolf (2003)
London Bridges (2004)
Mary, Mary (2005)
George Pelecanos Derek Strange Right as Rain (2001)
Hell to Pay (2002)
Soul Circus (2003)
Hard Revolution (2004)
Gary Phillips Ivan Monk

Martha Chainey
Violent Spring (1994)
Perdition, USA. Not in NOBLE. (1996)
Bad Night is Falling (1998)
Only the Wicked. Not in NOBLE. (2000)
Monkology: Short Stories. Not in NOBLE. (2004)
High Hand (2000)
Shooter's Point (2001)
Ishmael Reed Papa LaBas Mumbo Jumbo (1972)
Last Days of Louisiana Red (1974)
James Sallis Lew Griffin Long-legged Fly (1992)
Moth (1993)
Black Hornet (1994)
Eye of the Cricket (1997)
Bluebottle (1998)
Ghost of a Flea (2001)
Nichelle D.Tramble Maceo Redfield Dying Ground: Hip-Hop Noir (2001)
Last King. Not in NOBLE. (2004)
Persia Walker David Mckay Harlem Redux (2001)
Valerie Wilson Wesley Tamara Hayle When Death Comes Stealing (1994)
Devil's Gonna Get Him (1995)
Where Evil Sleeps (1996)
No Hiding Place (1997)
Easier to Kill (1998)
Devil Riding (2000)
Dying in the Dark (2004)
Chassie West Leigh Ann Warren Killing Kin (1999)
Killing Riches (2001)
Killing Chameleon (2004)
Paula L.Woods Charlotte Justice Inner City Blues (1999)
Stormy Weather (2001)
Dirty Laundry (2003)
Paula L.Woods, ed. Assorted Spooks, Spies and Private Eyes: Black Mystery, Crime, and Suspense Fiction of the 20th Century (1995)