Kellye Garrett

An Ode Part II: 3 More Black Female Authors You Should Read

I’ve already expressed my complete adoration for Valerie Wilson Wesley and the Tamara Hayle mystery series. With us being smack dab in the middle of Black History Month, I thought it would be a great time to spotlight three other black mystery authors I enjoy reading.

Barbara Neely

Blanche on the LamMain Character: Blanche White, a middle-aged, dark skinned full-figured maid turned amateur detective

Number of books in the series: 4

  1. Blanche on the Lam
  2. Blanche Among the Talented Tenth
  3. Blanche Cleans Up
  4. Blanche on the Go

Ms. Neely won the Agatha, the Macavity, and the Anthony awards for the first book in the series, Blanche on the Lam. It’s a very untraditional mystery but Blanche is a very untraditional main character. I especially love that Ms. Neely chose a character who is a cleaner to handle the “dirtiest” subjects (race, class, sexual abuse) in both the black community and in general.

Pamela Thomas-Graham

Pamela Thomas GrahamMain Character: Veronica “Nikki” Chase, a black female economics professor at Harvard University

Number of books in the series: 3

  1. A Darker Shade of Crimson
  2. Blue Blood
  3. Orange Crushed

Nikki Chase is about as opposite from Blanche White as you can get. Not only is she uber-educated, she checks the more traditional boxes when it comes to physical attractiveness. And while Blanche’s investigations tend to be more on the domestic side, Nikki keeps running into bodies on Ivy League campuses. Yet, Thomas-Graham also isn’t afraid to use her setting to deal with hot button issues like race and politics.  (And I love how even her title of her first book alludes to the subject matter.)

Grace F. Edwards

Grace F. EdwardsMain Character: Mali Anderson, a black female ex-cop turned grad student who can’t seem to let the investigation bug go

Number of books in the series: 4

  1. If I Should Die
  2. A Toast Before Dying
  3. No Time to Die
  4. Do or Die

The Mali Anderson books all take place in Harlem in the 90s and the setting serves as its own character. (And I’d be so curious as to Mali’s thoughts on the more gentrified Harlem of today.) Like Ms. Neely and Ms. Thomas-Graham, Ms. Edwards has a lot to say about what it means to be black and a woman, but Mali might also be the most tortured of the three main characters.

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