12 Crime Fiction Books to Read by Black Authors

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For all of you true crime fans who are looking for some awesome crime fiction to read this summer, here are some incredible options from detective stories, to thrillers, to easy-going ice cream shop mysteries.  Check out these books by black women writers!

We also recommend taking this a step further, and ordering your books from black-owned book stores if possible! Check here to see if there’s a store near you: https://www.bustle.com/p/27-black-owned-bookstores-you-can-order-online-from-now-22949566

A special thanks to bookstagrammer @theenthusiasticbookworm for her awesome research.  Be sure to check out her Instagram for other black writers in other genres in case crime isn’t your thing!

1 My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Stop what you’re doing and read My Sister the Serial Killer right now!  Oyinkan Braithwaite is an award-winning writer from Lagos, Nigeria, and this book is for anyone that appreciates both satire and learning about serial killers!

From Goodreads:

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…

2 Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

Attica Locke is a writer and producer for Empire, When They See Us, and Little Fires Everywhere.  She is an amazing talent, and you need to check our her true crime series Highway 59, starting with Bluebird, Bluebird!

From Goodreads:

“When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules–a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about growing up black in the lone star state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home.

When his allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he travels up Highway 59 to the small town of Lark, where two murders–a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman–have stirred up a hornet’s nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes–and save himself in the process–before Lark’s long-simmering racial fault lines erupt.

A rural noir suffused with the unique music, color, and nuance of East Texas, Bluebird, Bluebird is an exhilarating, timely novel about the collision of race and justice in America.”

3 Tell Me Your Secret by Dorothy Koomson

Dorothy Koomson wrote her first novel when she was 13, and her novel My Best Friend’s Girl went on to sell 500,000 copies!  

From Goodreads:

“Ten years ago, Pieta was kidnapped by a man calling himself The Blindfolder who said he wouldn’t kill her if she kept her eyes closed for 48 hours. She never told anyone what happened to her, vowing to move on with her life. But when The Blindfolder starts hunting down his past victims, Pieta realises she may finally be forced to tell her deepest secret to stay alive . . .

Jody has a secret.

Fifteen years ago, policewoman Jody made a terrible mistake that resulted in a serial killer known as The Blindfolder escaping justice. When Jody discovers journalist Pieta survived an attack by him, she realises she may finally have found a way to catch him. But that would mean endangering at least two innocent people . . .

They kept quiet to protect themselves.

Will telling all save or sacrifice each other?”

4 City of Saviors by Rachel Howzell Hall

Rachel Howzell Hall is really the queen of crime fiction with her critically-acclaimed detective series focused around Elouise Norton.  Be sure to check out the whole series!

From Goodreads:

“Los Angeles Homicide Detective Elouise Norton encounters her toughest case yet in City of Saviors, the fourth installment in the critically acclaimed mystery series from author Rachel Howzell Hall.

After a long Labor Day weekend, seventy-three-year-old Eugene Washington is found dead in his Leimert Park home. At first blush, his death seems unremarkable―heatwave combined with food poisoning from a holiday barbecue. But something in the way Washington died doesn’t make sense. LAPD Homicide Detective Elouise “Lou” Norton is called to investigate the death and learns that the only family Washington had was the 6,000-member congregation of Blessed Mission Ministries, led by Bishop Solomon Tate.

But something wicked is lurking among the congregants of this church.

Lou’s partner, Detective Colin Taggert, thinks her focus on the congregation comes from her distrust of organized religion. But Lou is convinced that the murderer is sitting in one of those red velvet pews―and that Bishop Tate may be protecting the wolf in the flock. Lou must force the truth into the light and confront her own demons in order to save another soul before it’s too late.”

5 And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall

Release Date: September 22, 2020

After you’ve checked out City of Saviors, be sure to order Rachel’s upcoming novel, And Now She’s Gone!

From Goodreads:

“Isabel Lincoln is gone.

But is she missing?

It’s up to Grayson Sykes to find her. Although she is reluctant to track down a woman who may not want to be found, Gray’s search for Isabel Lincoln becomes more complicated and dangerous with every new revelation about the woman’s secrets and the truth she’s hidden from her friends and family.

Featuring two complicated women in a dangerous cat and mouse game, And Now She’s Gone explores the nature of secrets — and how violence and fear can lead you to abandon everything in order to survive.”

6 When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

Release Date: September 15, 2020

Alyssa Cole is known for her award-winning historical, contemporary, and sci fi romance, but we are very excited for the release of her upcoming thriller!

From Goodreads:

“Rear Window meets Get Out in this gripping thriller from a critically acclaimed and New York Times Notable author, in which the gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood takes on a sinister new meaning…

Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.

But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.

When does coincidence become conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear?”

7 Grown by Tiffany D Jackson

Release Date: September 15, 2020

Tiffany Jackson works in tv by day, and a novelist by night.  We love her crime writing, and can’t wait to read Grown in our MMNster book club!

From Goodreads:

Korey Fields is dead.

When Enchanted Jones wakes with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night, no one—the police and Korey’s fans included—has more questions than she does. All she really knows is that this isn’t how things are supposed to be. Korey was Enchanted’s ticket to stardom.

Before there was a dead body, Enchanted was an aspiring singer, struggling with her tight knit family’s recent move to the suburbs while trying to find her place as the lone Black girl in high school. But then legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots her at an audition. And suddenly her dream of being a professional singer takes flight.

Enchanted is dazzled by Korey’s luxurious life but soon her dream turns into a nightmare. Behind Korey’s charm and star power hides a dark side, one that wants to control her every move, with rage and consequences. Except now he’s dead and the police are at the door. Who killed Korey Fields?

8 Broken Places by Tracy Clark

Tracy Clark is a native Chicagoan, and her debut book Broken Places made the Library Journal’s best list for Best Crime Fiction of 2018.  Get Ready, because her series on ex-cop Cassandra Raines already has three Books in the Series!

From Goodreads:

“Cops can make mistakes, even when they’re not rookies. If anyone knows that it’s Cass Raines, who took a bullet two years ago after an incompetent colleague screwed up a tense confrontation with an armed suspect. Deeply traumatized by the incident, Cass resigned from the Chicago PD, leaving one less female African-American on the force. Now she’s the head of a one-woman private investigation agency, taking on just enough work to pay the bills. She spends the rest of her time keeping an eye on the tenants in her little Hyde Park apartment building, biking along the lakefront, and playing chess with the only father figure she’s ever known, Father Ray Heaton.

When Father Ray asks Cass to look into a recent spate of vandalism at his church, she readily agrees to handle the case. But only hours later she’s horrified to discover his murdered body in the church confessional, a dead gangbanger sprawled out nearby. She knew Pop, as she called him, had ticked off plenty of people, from slumlords to drug dealers and even some parishioners and politicians, with his uncompromising defense of the downtrodden. But a late-night random theft doesn’t seem like much of a motive at a cash-strapped parish like Saint Brendan’s.

The lead detective assigned to the case is all too ready to dismiss it as an interrupted burglary gone awry, just another statistic in a violent city. But Cass’s instincts tell her otherwise, and badge or no badge, she intends to see justice done.”

9 Murder in Montego Bay by Paula Lennon

Paula Lennon worked as a commercial lawyer for many years in London, before moving to Jamaica where she is always actively plotting, writing, and admiring the Caribbean Sea.

From Goodreads:

“Introducing crime-fighting duo Jamaican Detective Raythan Preddy and Scottish lawman Detective Sean Harris set in the picturesque city of Montego Bay, Jamaica

Privileged Chinese-Jamaican brothers Lester and Carter Chin Ellis have enjoyed a sheltered life as the heirs to the iced desserts empire Chinchillerz. One fateful night, following a fiery encounter with local law enforcement, the brothers are taken to Pelican Walk Police Station, where Lester is detained for drunk driving, while Carter is released without charge. When Carter is shot dead within minutes of leaving the station his murder throws the police force into crisis mode.

Discredited Detective Raythan Preddy is put in charge of the murder case and is forced to accept the assistance of Detective Sean Harris, a Scottish lawman seconded to Jamaica. With his superiors watching his every move and the Chin Ellis family interfering with the investigation, Preddy is determined to catch the killer and save his career.”

10 Darling by Rachel Edwards

Rachel Edwards was inspired to write Darling after she experienced blatant racial abuse during the Brexit referendum.  Her first novel draws on this experience.

From Goodreads: 

“Lola doesn’t particularly want a new stepmother. Especially not one who has come out of nowhere and only been with her dad for three months. And – she’s not racist or anything – but since when did her dad fancy black women anyway?

Darling didn’t particularly want a new stepdaughter. Especially not one as spiteful and spoilt as Lola. She does want Lola’s dad though. And he wants her, so that’s that: Darling and Lola will just have to get used to each other.

Unless Lola can find a way to get rid of Darling.”

11 A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Collette

How about a nice lighthearted, murder mystery?  It’s almost summer, so a mystery in an ice cream shop seems like the perfect distraction!

From Goodreads:

This book kicks off a charming cozy mystery series set in an ice cream shop–with a fabulous cast of quirky characters.

Recent MBA grad Bronwyn Crewse has just taken over her family’s ice cream shop in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and she’s going back to basics. Win is renovating Crewse Creamery to restore its former glory, and filling the menu with delicious, homemade ice cream flavors—many from her grandmother’s original recipes. But unexpected construction delays mean she misses the summer season, and the shop has a literal cold opening: the day she opens her doors an early first snow descends on the village and keeps the customers away.

To make matters worse, that evening, Win finds a body in the snow, and it turns out the dead man was a grifter with an old feud with the Crewse family. Soon, Win’s father is implicated in his death. It’s not easy to juggle a new-to-her business while solving a crime, but Win is determined to do it. With the help of her quirky best friends and her tight-knit family, she’ll catch the ice cold killer before she has a meltdown…

12 Lakewood by Megan Giddings

Megan Giddings is a fiction editor at The Offing and a senior features editor at The Rumpus. 

From Goodreads:

A startling debut about class and race, Lakewood evokes a terrifying world of medical experimentation—part The Handmaid’s Tale, part The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

When Lena Johnson’s beloved grandmother dies, and the full extent of the family debt is revealed, the black millennial drops out of college to support her family and takes a job in the mysterious and remote town of Lakewood, Michigan.

On paper, her new job is too good to be true. High paying. No out of pocket medical expenses. A free place to live. All Lena has to do is participate in a secret program—and lie to her friends and family about the research being done in Lakewood. An eye drop that makes brown eyes blue, a medication that could be a cure for dementia, golden pills promised to make all bad thoughts go away.

The discoveries made in Lakewood, Lena is told, will change the world—but the consequences for the subjects involved could be devastating. As the truths of the program reveal themselves, Lena learns how much she’s willing to sacrifice for the sake of her family.

Provocative and thrilling, Lakewood is a breathtaking novel that takes an unflinching look at the moral dilemmas many working-class families face, and the horror that has been forced on black bodies in the name of science.

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