Triple Time with Crime and Diversity by Holstine, Love, and Zgorski

We often hear talk of how crime fiction is the social novel of today. Many of the problems faced by society are reflected back to us through the books we read. However, diversity issues still plague this genre. Things are getting better and there are more representations of diversity in both authors and characters with each passing year, but we can still use more of these lesser-heard voices within the crime fiction community. As a way of supporting and encouraging, Lesa, Kristofer, and I decided to center our latest Triple Post on the subject of diversity. Fittingly, we each pinpointed and covered the topic in different ways. We hope that you will enjoy our posts and that it inspires you to try something new, something outside of your everyday box.

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When I pick up a book to read, the racial identity of the characters does not consciously come into play. I know they will most likely be Caucasian and if there is diversity in the book, they will be a police officer or a friend of a friend.

Recently I have discovered several books where the main protagonists were African-American women and in two of the books, they are portrayed as amateur sleuths. They were the same as their counterparts, inquisitive women who feels the prime suspect is innocent and they could do a better job in finding a killer. The third features a LAPD Homicide Detective whose on the street training gives her the one-up on the criminal element, creating a well-rounded person who I’m rooting for.

Mahalia Watkins Mystery Series

Murder with Fried Chicken and Waffles (2015)
Murder with Macaroni and Cheese (August 30, 2016)

A.L. Herbert writes a cozy mystery that takes place at Mahalia’s Sweet Tea–the finest soul food restaurant in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Halia Watkins is the owner and her cousin Wavonne “works” at the restaurant and her momma bakes the desserts. The food is delicious and with murder served as the side dish, we get to see Halia do her thing in order to protect her cousin and save her business. I enjoyed all the Southern colloquialism dispersed in the book by the multitude of characters.

Eugeena Patterson Mystery Series

Shattered Dreams, A Short Story (2013)
Deep Fried Trouble (2013)
Oven Baked Secret (2015)
Lemon Filled Disaster (2017)

Tyora Moody pens a Christian cozy mystery series featuring Eugeena Patterson, a recently widowed and retired Social Studies teacher in North Charleston, South Carolina in the neighborhood called Sugar Creek. She is the mother of three and grandmother to four. Her life is disrupted when first she finds the body of an estrange friend and then the sudden appearance and disappearance of her youngest daughter who comes bearing not one, but two grand-babies, of which the second one is a surprise to this grandmother.

Detective Elouise Norton Mystery Series

Land of Shadows (2014)
Skies of Ash (2015)
Trail of Echoes (May 31, 2016)

Rachel Howzell Hall writes about Elouise “Lou” Norton, an African-American homicide detective who works in Los Angeles, California. I don’t know what it is like to be an LAPD Homicide Detective, but Rachel does a good job in bringing the words on the page to life and I can feel the character’s strength and vulnerability in these stories that tells more than what is being seen.

Diversity means different things to different people and I can’t wait to see what Lesa and Kristofer wrote on the topic. Thanks again for stopping by the blog today. Please journey over to BOLO’s Book and Lesa’s Book Critiques for further discussion of diversity in crime literature.

12 responses to “Triple Time with Crime and Diversity by Holstine, Love, and Zgorski

  1. Barbara Hackel

    Interesting blog. I agree that most of the racial diversity is seen in the assistant characters. I have to admit that I neither pick up a book because of racial diversity, nor avoid one for those reasons. I see personalities rather than colors. I live my life this way, so why not read this way?
    Thanks for the book suggestions given above. I’ll check them out.


  2. Mary Jane H.

    A very good topic for this discussion, I love diversity. Thanks for introducing these new authors to us all. I’m putting them on my tbr list now!


  3. Must be a privilege not being bothered whether or not a book has or lacks diversity. I’ve noticed people not affected will typically have that point of view. They’re also the ones who typically ‘don’t see color’ because once again they’re not the ones affected. Well, it bothers me. When you rarely see yourself represented (only as a ‘mammy type’ ‘friend’ ‘sidekick’ or ‘comic relief’) it makes a tremendous amount of difference.

    I can recall many moons ago seeing ‘Get Christie Love’ on tv as a very young child back in the 1970s and thinking WOW, she looks just like my big sis. I wanted more but sadly had to wait for positive representation.

    Fast forward to the 1990s, the adult me at a bookstore in downtown DC, at Barnes and Noble walking through the mystery section and stopping dead in my tracks. That was when I picked up the Starletta Duvall series by the great late author, Judith Smith-Levin. A storyline where the protagonist is a black female homicide lieutenant. I thought FINALLY damnit!! And slowly, very slowly I started seeing more diverse authors which equaled diverse characters. Not white authors writing about people of color.

    Dru, thank you so much for this blog post.


    • Thank you Kicha for commenting. I hope you take a chance on these three titles. There are also more authors of color writing books as well. One, R Franklin James writes the Hollis Morgan series which I enjoy. Hope you look into that as well.


  4. Dru Ann, all three series sound good, but I am especially wanting to get to Rachel Howzell Hall’s books. I have one in my TBR pile and am working my way to it.


    • Thanks for commenting Kathy. Rachel’s next book will be featured on dru’s book musings at the end of the month.


  5. Thanks for the book recommendations, Dru! I’m sure you already know this but I’m ALWAYS on the lookout for new mysteries with black main characters that are written by black authors. I was familiar with Rachel and A.L. Herbert, but wasn’t familiar with Tyora Moody. I will definitely check her out.


  6. Ruth Nixon

    Thanks Dru Ann, 3 new to me authors to read. Living in California the color of people skin has never bothered me and have always read a book because something caught my eye. But I always read Tony Hillerman and now his daughter Anne, Margeret Coel and William Kent Krueger because of my mother having a Native American father and a Irish mother.My mother was never proud of her father side of the family . Now I think she would be as there is much to be proud of.


  7. When I began writing my first book I gave a few chapters to a friend to read. I had no idea what I was doing and wanted to get feedback on the mechanics of my writing before I continued. She pointed out that when I introduced a white character I never mentioned his or her race, while minority characters always had their races included in their initial descriptions. This unconscious bias rocked me. I’d created a white-washed world–so much so that I didn’t even have to mention a white character’s race when describing how they looked because it would be assumed. My friend gave me many other notes–my writing was embarrassingly clunky–but that was the one I’ll always be the most grateful for. Ever since, I’ve stated all character’s races, but I still worry what other unconscious biases I’m harboring. It’s impossible to know what I don’t know.