by Elizabeth Wilkerson
Happened to be Black
People say stupid stuff all of the time.
James Patterson, the wealthiest writer in the U.S. weighing in at a hefty net worth of $800 million, planted his foot squarely in his mouth when he bellyached about how he was the victim of racism because he was a white male writer. I’ve read lots of Patterson‘s books. I even enrolled in his online MasterClass. But, wow!
What bothered me more than Patterson’s protestation of racial victimhood was how he described the African-American protagonist of his hugely successful, and hugely profitable, Alex Cross series. Patterson said he “just wanted to create a character who happened to be Black.”
Just happened to be Black. As if Alex Cross’ race was incidental and inconsequential. Perhaps Alex Cross might as easily have “just happened to be” Amish or Uighur or an Hasidic Jew. A random roll of the dice.
The question of who has the right to tell a culture’s story has generated heated debates. “Just happens to be Black” ignores how the complexities of a person‘s cultural and racial identity, rooted in generations, shape their perception, worldview, and even their DNA. Works by Crime Writers of Color present a panoply of deliberately crafted protagonists brought to life by authors who “just happen” to know their characters intimately.
Take a look at the impressive offerings from our over 300 members!
Strangers We Know by Elle Marr
Release Date: May 1, 2022, Thomas & Mercer
The search for a serial killer leads a woman into the twisted tangle of her own family tree in a chilling novel by the #1 Amazon Charts bestselling author of The Missing Sister and Lies We Bury.
Denver Noir by Francelia Belton, Manuel Ramos, David Heska Wanbli Weiden and others
Release Date: May 3, 2022, Akashic Books
Denver Noir joins over 100 volumes in Akashic’s award-winning Noir Series of location-based dark fiction anthologies. Denver local Cynthia Swanson (author of The Bookseller and The Glass Forest) has pulled together thirteen contributors who know the city best to pen short tales set in distinct locations from Aurora to Washington Park. Crime Writers of Color members with stories in the collection include: Francelia Belton’s “Dreaming of Ella” is set in Five Points; Manuel Ramos’ “Northside Nocturne” is set in Northside; David Heska Wanbli Weiden’s story “Colfax and Havana” is set in Aurora.
The Bangalore Detectives Club by Harini Nagendra
Release Date: May 5, 2022, Pegasus Crime
When clever, headstrong Kaveri marries handsome young doctor Ramu, she’s resigned herself to a quiet life in 1920s Bangalore. Everything changes when she stumbles into a murder scene at the Century Club. Determined to save a vulnerable woman, Kaveri launches a private investigation in the brothels and bungalows of Bangalore. Sleuthing in a sari isn’t as hard as it seems when you have a talent for mathematics, a head for logic, and a doctor for a husband.
Change Nothing: A Jonelle Sweet Mystery by R. Lanier Clemons
Release Date: May 5, 2022, Journey Well Books
When PI Jonelle Sweet’s best friend moves into her new home and starts receiving anonymous cards, she laughs off the annoying notes as a harmless prank. That is, until the prime suspect winds up dead, and there are more mysteries hidden on the grounds and within the walls of the renovated church than anyone imagined.
Dance Among the Flames by Tori Eldridge
Release Date: May 24, 2022, Running Wild Press
A desperate mother rises from the slums of Brazil to become a powerful wielder of Quimbanda magic. Across forty years, three continents, and a past incident in 1560 France, Serafina Olegario tests the boundaries of love, power, and corruption as she fights to escape her life of poverty and abuse. Enticed by Exú, an immortal trickster and intermediary to the gods, she turns to the seductive magic of Quimbanda. Passion. Horror. Betrayal. When you come from nothing, you have nothing to lose. (KRL recently reviewed Dance Among the Flames)
Agent Red-Fatal Death: Teagan Stone Series, Book 6 by Ava S. King
Release Date: May 26, 2022, 304 Publishing Company
They only want one thing, and that’s to see Agent Red brought to her knees. In a race against time, she will have to make the ultimate decision. Will she be able to save someone close to her or put the country she gave the oath to protect before her happiness?
Mirror of Lust: A Jessica Smith Mystery, Book 2 by Ava S. King
Release Date: June 23, 2022, 304 Publishing Company
Jessica did her part to solve her friend’s murder but knows that’s only the beginning. Somewhere out there is a copycat killer who is actively searching for her or her next victim. As a journalist, she’s the person the local police want to avoid around any criminal case. But those analytical skills won’t help ease the pain she feels when another friend of hers is murdered.
Death by Bubble Tea by Jennifer J. Chow
Release Date: July 5, 2022, Berkley Publishing
Two cousins who start a food stall at their local night market get a serving of murder in this first novel of a delicious new cozy mystery series by Jennifer J. Chow, author of Mimi Lee Gets a Clue.
Shielding Her Son by K.D. Richards
Release Date: July 26, 2022, Harlequin Intrigue
Erika Powell has lived in hiding for years to protect her son from his wealthy, tyrannical grandfather. Wary of strangers, she’s suspicious of James West, who’s renting a neighboring cabin, despite their sizzling chemistry. But when attempts are made on Erika’s life, James fears he may have endangered her—because the undercover PI’s investigation of Erika may have led someone dangerous right to her.
Complicit by Winnie M Li
Release Date: August 16, 2022, Atria/Emily Bestler Books
After a long-buried, harrowing incident, a woman whose promising film career was derailed has an opportunity for revenge in this visceral and timely thriller about power, privilege, and justice.
Her Dream, His Nightmare: The Saga Continues by Marla K. Morris
Release Date: August 25, 2022
In His Dream, Her Nightmare, we learn the fate of Winnie Drummond. However, there were so many unanswered questions. Will there be justice for Winnie? Have her children been resilient after she’s no longer with them? Will her husband, Nelson, ever have to pay for his role in her demise? This continuation of the Drummond family’s tale of woe reveals how time marches on and Nelson is living his best life. But is he?
The Alchemist of Riddle and Ruin by Gigi Pandian
Release Date: August 30, 2022, Gargoyle Girl Productions
A riddle, a game, and a clue in the garden. When Zoe Faust sees the ghost of a murdered young woman, is it really a spirit—or a flesh and blood woman who stopped aging because she’s a fellow alchemist? Sixteen years ago, Ridley Price discovered a secret she planned to reveal through a party game—but someone killed her first. When her supposed ghost turns dangerous, Zoe teams up with her gargoyle roommate Dorian to unmask the supposed specter.
Two Parts Sugar, One Part Murder by Valerie Burns
Release Date: August 30, 2022, Kensington
When Maddy Montgomery’s groom is a no-show to their livestream wedding, it’s a disaster that no amount of filtering can fix. But a surprise inheritance offers a chance to regroup and rebrand—as long as Maddy is willing to live in her late, great-aunt Octavia’s house in New Bison, Michigan, for a year, running her bakery and caring for a 250-pound English mastiff named Baby. Maddy doesn’t bake, and her Louboutins aren’t made for walking giant dogs around Lake Michigan, but the locals are friendly and the scenery is beautiful. With help from her aunt’s loyal friends, aka the Baker Street Irregulars, Maddy feels ready to tackle any challenge, including Octavia’s award-winning cake recipes. That is, until New Bison’s mayor is fatally stabbed, and Maddy’s fingerprints are found on the knife.
Murder Out of Character: A Peach Coast Library Mystery, Book 2 by Olivia Matthews
Release Date: September 13, 2022, Hallmark Publishing
Marvey finds a list of four names, including someone who recently died and may have been murdered. Another is Spencer Holt, the handsome newspaper owner who’s become one of her best friends. The four people appear to have nothing in common other than living in Peach Coast. Spencer dismisses the list at first, but before long, has to admit he may be in danger. Can Marvey, Spencer, and their intrepid librarian friends stop a killer bent on long overdue revenge?
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode goes up next week.
CWOC author Jennifer Chow has been featured on a past episode of Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast. You can listen by clicking here or on the player below:
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