African American Mystery Writers

A Historical and Thematic Study

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About the Book

The book describes the movement by African American authors from slave narratives and antebellum newspapers into fiction writing, and the subsequent developments of black genre fiction through the present. It analyzes works by modern African American mystery writers, focusing on sleuths, the social locations of crime, victims and offenders, the notion of “doing justice,” and the role of African American cultural vernacular in mystery fiction. A final section focuses on readers and reading, examining African American mystery writers’ access to the marketplace and the issue of the “double audience” raised by earlier writers. Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Frankie Y. Bailey is an associate professor in the University at Albany’s School of Criminal Justice. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America and currently serves as the secretary and a director-at-large of the Board of Directors. She is also a member of Sisters in Crime and of Romance Writers of America.

Bibliographic Details

Frankie Y. Bailey
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 277
Bibliographic Info: appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3339-1
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5233-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface     1

PART I. EARLY BLACK WRITERS AS CRIME REPORTERS      5
1. Naming the Crime     7
2. Early Genre Writers      24
3. From Himes to Hip Hop      56

PART II. MODERN AFRICAN AMERICAN MYSTERY WRITERS      73
4. The Sleuths and Their Worlds      75
5. Place, Crime, and Community     106
6. Victims and Offenders      123
7. Doing Justice      144

PART III. READERS, WRITERS, AND SCHOLARS      161
8. Readers and Reading      163
9. Writers and Scholars Speak      179

Concluding Thoughts: Worldviews in Context      202
Appendix A: Biographical Information      207
Appendix B: Books of Post-1987 Authors in the Sample      210
Appendix C: Nominations and Awards      212
Appendix D: Checklist of Mystery/Detective Fiction, Film and Television      214
Appendix E: Index to Topics in the Books in the Sample      223
Appendix F: Readers Survey      235
Notes      241
Bibliography      249
Index      267

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Winner, Macavity Award—Mystery Readers International
  • Finalist, Edgar Award—Mystery Writers of America
  • Finalist, Anthony Award—Bouchercon World Mystery Convention
  • Finalist, Agatha Award—Malice Domestic Mystery Convention
  • “Engagingly written…an important addition”—Mystery Scene
  • “Ms. Bailey’s depth of knowledge on the subject is staggering”—Scarlet
  • “Frankie Bailey knows a thing or two about crime writing”—Times Union (Albany, NY)