#5OnMyTBR | Celebrating Diversity in Mystery Books

#5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook and you can learn more about it here or in the post announcing it. It occurs every Monday when we post about 5 books on our TBR.

This week’s topic is Pride Free Day. I picked 5 books that reflect diversity in the mystery genre, particularly LGBTQ+ and African American.

#1 Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley

The first novel by “master of mystery” (The New York Times) Walter Mosley, featuring Easy Rawlins, the most iconic African American detective in all of fiction. Named one of the “best 100 mystery novels of all time” by the Mystery Writers of America, this special thirtieth anniversary edition features an all new introduction from the author.

The year is 1948, the town is Los Angeles.

Easy Rawlins, a black war veteran, has just been fired from his job at a defense factory plant. Drinking in his friend’s bar, he’s wondering how he’ll manage to make ends meet, when a white man in a linen suit approaches him and offers him good money if Easy will simply locate Miss Daphne Money, a missing blonde beauty known to frequent black jazz clubs.

Easy has no idea that by taking this job, his life is about to change forever.

More than simply a detective novel…[Mosley is] a talented author with something vital to say about the distance between the black and white worlds, and with a dramatic way to say it. – The New York Times

Most recent novel – published February 2020

About the author: Walter Mosley (b. 1952) is the author of the bestselling mystery series featuring Easy Rawlins, as well as numerous other works, from literary fiction and science fiction to a young adult novel and political monographs. His short fiction has been widely published, and his nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine and the Nation, among other publications. Mosley is the winner of numerous awards, including an O. Henry Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, a Grammy, and PEN America’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He lives in New York City.

#2 Murder at Pirate’s Cove by Josh Lanyon

Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, Scrabble champion and guy-with-worst-luck-in-the-world-when-it-comes-to-dating, is ready to make a change. So when he learns he’s inherited both a failing bookstore and a falling-down mansion in the quaint seaside village of Pirate’s Cove on Buck Island, Rhode Island, it’s full steam ahead!

Sure enough, the village is charming, its residents amusingly eccentric, and widowed police chief Jack Carson is decidedly yummy (though probably as straight as he is stern). However, the bookstore is failing, the mansion is falling down, and there’s that little drawback of finding rival bookseller–and head of the unwelcoming-committee–Trevor Maples dead during the annual Buccaneer Days celebration.

Still, it could be worse. And once Police Chief Carson learns Trevor was killed with the cutlass hanging over the door of Ellery’s bookstore, it is.

**This story contains NO on-screen sex or violence.

About the author: Josh Lanyon is the author of over sixty titles of classic Male/Male fiction featuring twisty mystery, kickass adventure and unapologetic man-on-man romance.

Her work has been translated into eleven languages. The FBI thriller Fair Game was the first male/male title to be published by Harlequin Mondadori, the largest romance publisher in Italy. Stranger on the Shore (Harper Collins Italia) was the first M/M title to be published in print. In 2016 Fatal Shadows placed #5 in Japan’s annual Boy Love novel list (the first and only title by a foreign author to place). The Adrien English Series was awarded All Time Favorite Male Male Couple in the 2nd Annual contest held by the 20,000+ Goodreads M/M Group. Josh is an Eppie Award winner, a four-time Lambda Literary Award finalist (twice for Gay Mystery), an Edgar nominee and the first ever recipient of the Goodreads Favorite M/M Author Lifetime Achievement award.

Josh is married and lives in Southern California.

#3 A Study in Spectres by Jess Faraday

Simon Pearce is a copper with a secret….Victorian London is a dangerous place — for a gay man, even more so. And for a gifted copper working his way up the greasy career ladder of Scotland Yard, it’s a perilous position indeed. Two short tales of mystery and suspense!

Constable Pearce keeps his head down, his eyes open, and his private life private.

About the author: Jess Faraday is the author of the award-winning Ira Adler historical mysteries, the standalone steampunk adventure The Left Hand of Justice and a number of historical adventures in short story and novella form.

Her novella, The Strange Case of the Big Sur Benefactor, won a Rainbow Award for Lesbian Historical. Fool’s Gold won a Rainbow Award for Best Gay Historical, and was a runner-up for Best Gay Novel. Turnbull House was a runner-up for Best Gay Historical, and The Affair of the Porcelain Dog was both a Lambda Awards finalist, and won Honorable Mention for Best Novel of the Year from Speak Its Name.

She has edited several award-winning short story collections for Elm Books, including Death and a Cup of Tea (one of Foreword Review’s top Indie mysteries of 2015), Undeath and the Detective (Finalist for a Silver Falchion Award for Best Multi-Author Anthology), and Fae Love, which won an Aspen Gold Reader’s Choice Award.

#4 Blanche on the Lam by Barbara Neely

Barbara Neely’s Smart, Sassy and Groundbreaking Crime Novel
Blanche White is a plump, feisty, middle-aged African-American housekeeper working for the genteel rich in North Carolina. But when an employer stiffs her, and her checks bounce, she goes on the lam, hiding out as a maid for a wealthy family at their summer home. That plan goes awry when there’s a murder and Blanche becomes the prime suspect. So she’s forced to use her savvy, her sharp wit, and her old-girl network of domestic workers to discover the truth and save her own skin. Along the way, she lays bare the quirks of southern society with humor, irony, and a biting commentary that makes her one of the most memorable and original characters ever to appear in mystery fiction.

About the author: Barbara Neely was a novelist, short story writer, and author of the popular Blanche White mystery novels. The first book in this series, BLANCHE ON THE LAM, won the Agatha, the Macavity, and the Anthony — three of the four major mystery awards for best first novel — as well as the Go On Girl! Book Club award for a debut novel. The subsequent books in the series, BLANCHE AMONG THE TALENTED TENTH, BLANCHE CLEANS UP and BLANCHE PASSES GO have also received critical acclaim from both fans and literary critics. Books in the Blanche White series have been taught in courses at universities as varied as Howard University, Northwestern, Bryn Mawr, Old Dominion, Boston College, Appalachian State University, Washington State University and Guttenberg University in Mainz, Germany. Books in the series have been translated into French, German and Japanese.

Neely’s short stories have appeared in anthologies, magazines, university texts, and journals including: Things that divide us, Speaking for Ourselves, Constellations, Literature: Reading and Writing the Human Experience, Breaking Ice, Essence, and Obsidian II.

Ms. Neely has also had an extensive public sector career. She designed and directed the first community-based corrections facility for women in Pennsylvania, directed a branch of the YWCA, and headed a consultant firm for non-profits. She was part of an evaluative research team at the Institute for Social Research, the Executive Director of Women for Economic Justice, and a radio producer for Africa News Service. For her activism Neely has received the Community Works Social Action Award for Leadership and Activism for Women’s Rights and Economic Justice, and the Fighting for Women’s Voices Award from the Coalition for Basic Human Needs.

#5 Hallowed Murder by Ellen Hart

The police call Allison Lord’s drowning a suicide, but her housemates at her University of Minnesota sorority insist it was murder. That’s when alumnae advisor, Jane Lawless, steps in to find out the truth. Assisted by her irrepressible sidekick Cordelia, Jane searches for clues, and what she finds is as chilling as the Minnesota winter. At a lonely vacation lodge, amidst the icy snow drifts, she risks her life to ensnare a cunning killer.

Nominated: 1990 Minnesota Book Award for Best Crime Fiction
Nominated: 1989 Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Mystery
Nominated: 1996 Golden Earphones Award (Audio World), Best Unabridged Book
Winner: 1996 Golden Earphones Award (Audio World), Best Reader of an unabridged work, Carol Jordan Stewart for her reading of Hallowed Murder

About the author: Ellen Hart is the author of twenty-eight crime novels in two different series. She is a five-time winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Mystery, a three-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award for Best Popular Fiction, a three-time winner of the Golden Crown Literary Award in several categories, a recipient of the Alice B Medal, and was made an official GLBT Literary Saint at the Saints & Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans in 2005. In 2010, Ellen received the GCLS Trailblazer Award for lifetime achievement in the field of lesbian literature. For the past fourteen years, Ellen has taught “An Introduction to Writing the Modern Mystery” through the The Loft Literary Center, the largest independent writing community in the nation. Ellen’s latest Sophie Greenway mystery is No Reservations Required (Ballantine). Rest for the Wicked, the twentieth Jane Lawless mystery, will be released by St. Martin’s/Minotaur in October 2012. Bella Books has recently revived the out-of-print books by publishing them in both trade paperback and E-book. Ellen lives in the Minneapolis area with her partner of over 35 years.

Do you have any mystery novels on your TBR or that you’ve read that are diverse in regards to the main character and/or the author?

20 Replies to “#5OnMyTBR | Celebrating Diversity in Mystery Books”

  1. Tessa, I actually don’t see the characters or their diversity while reading. If the cover and blurb are great, I read the story. So I have no idea what I have on my kindle. But as long as it is a murder mystery or a strong women’s fiction, I read.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. All of these books sound so good!

    I’m particularly intrigued by “Devil in a Blue Dress” by Walter Mosely! I’ve been meaning to dip my toe into the world of mystery…I really should it sounds like my cup of tea for sure! Great list of diverse books 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have never read Devil In a Blue Dress, but now I’m highly intrigued.

    Also, I love the Louis Kincaid series of mysteries by P.J. Parrish. One of my absolute favorite characters.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great theme, Tessa! I must say I’m not a frequent reder of mysteries but I’ve read plenty of paranormal mysteries — have you heard of Fallible Justice by Laura Laakso? It’s my recent discovery 🙂

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  5. What a great post! I’ve never heard of any of these books, but they are definitely going on my TBR because they sound awesome, I love the type of mystery they are and I need to read more out of my comfort zone. Sometimes it seems like there isn’t much diversity in some genres, but it’s comforting to know there are some great representations like these.

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    1. I agree. I felt like there is lots of diversity in the fantasy books I read, but not the mysteries. So I did some research and found these gems ❤️


      1. Yes, I see a lot of diversity in fantasy, I’m so glad you found these, I’m really looking forward to reading them 💕

        Liked by 1 person

  6. What a great list, Tessa! I definitely want to read Devil in a Blue Dress and Blanche on the Lam. Thanks for sharing these. I’m always happy to expand my reading list.

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