Although crime fiction still has a long way to go in terms of representation, we’ve recently been getting more fantastic books by a wide range of authors of color. From high-stakes heists to murder mysteries, these mysteries & thrillers by diverse authors are not to be missed. This is in no way an exhaustive list, but hopefully, a good place to start expanding your reading horizons.
by Cate Holahan
Imani Banks lives in a posh Brooklyn Heights neighborhood that has just been rocked to its core. An acclaimed movie director has been murdered, and his blond trophy wife—Imani’s closest friend—is missing. Their neighbors, along with the media, jump to the conclusion that Melissa Walker has killed her husband in a fit of rage and is on the run.
Fortunately for the missing actress, Imani is a psychiatrist as well as a steadfast friend. She will never give up her search and is determined to prove Melissa’s innocence. It shouldn’t take a degree in human behavior to know that Melissa would never leave her daughter behind.
Recently, Imani and her chef husband rented some extra rooms in their house to a struggling waitress from his restaurant. Tonya Sayre has moved in with her teen daughter and the convenient timing and her suspicious behavior soon lead Imani to suspect that the true killer is living right under her own roof. Now all she has to do is prove it.
Buried in debt due to his young daughter’s illness, his marriage at the brink, Mario reluctantly takes a job as a hitman, surprising himself with his proclivity for violence. After tragedy destroys the life he knew, Mario agrees to one final job: hijack a cartel’s cash shipment before it reaches Mexico. Along with an old friend and a cartel-insider named Juanca, Mario sets off on the near-suicidal mission, which will leave him with either a cool $200,000 or a bullet in the skull. But the path to reward or ruin is never as straight as it seems. As the three complicated men travel through the endless landscape of Texas, across the border and back, their hidden motivations are laid bare alongside nightmarish encounters that defy explanation. One thing is certain: even if Mario makes it out alive, he won’t return the same.
Grace D. Li
In this highly anticipated novel, Ocean’s Eleven meets The Farewell. This high-stakes-heist draws inspiration from a true story of Chinese art vanishing from Western museums. Will Chen, a Harvard senior, has lived a comfortable life trying to fulfill his parents’ American Dream. But when an opportunity arises, impossible and maybe illegal, Will finds himself leading a classic team of con-artists to steal five sculptures back from museums and return them to China. Thrilling and thoughtful, Portrait of a Thief is an examination of Chinese-American identity and the lingering effects of colonialism.
Disgraced reality TV star Desiree Pierce is found dead on a playground in the Bronx the morning after her 25th birthday. People are quick to call it an overdose, but Desiree’s half-sister, Lena Scott, knows that can’t be true. Despite not having spoken to her in two years, Lena is determined to find the truth about her sister, even if it means unraveling her family’s deepest, darkest secrets.
Diamond. Noelle. Vanessa. As Cyrus Grey recovers from a near-fatal shooting, the women who each thought they were his only wife are fighting hard to make new dreams—even if it means going one dangerous step too far . . .
On trial for Cyrus’s shooting, Diamond is determined to clear her name—and get back the husband she still loves. But uncovering the truth will reveal more secrets than she ever imagined. And unexpected desire is bringing them all too close to home . . .
Beautiful Noelle has found happiness with new love Tariq. But Cyrus’ scheming confronts her with an unthinkable conspiracy—and an impossible choice to save all she hopes for . . .
As seemingly sweet suburban wife Vanessa helps Cyrus recover, she's about to finish him off for good—and keep the expensive lifestyle she earned. But her manipulations will push her up against two relentless—and all-too-intimate—enemies . . .
Now with lethal agendas clashing, passions high, and everyone's future on the line, which rules will each woman break to finally end the past—and who will survive to secure everything?
Robin Peguero’s debut novel explores the prejudice within every trial. In this legal thriller, seven jurors must decide the fate of the trial for Melina Mora’s murder. A young prosecutor, Sandy Grunwald, depends on securing a conviction for her political ambitions. On the other side is Jordan Whipple, a public defender who discovers evidence that could change the course of the trial. Judge Tackett, Sandy, and Jordan know that the criminal justice system is complicated. The jury, with their biases and beliefs, will shape the verdict.
LOS ANGELES, 1963: African American Korean War veteran Harry Ingram earns a living as a news photographer and occasional process server: chasing police radio calls and dodging baseball bats. With racial tensions running high on the eve of Martin Luther King’s Freedom Rally, Ingram risks becoming a victim at every crime scene he photographs.
When Ingram hears about a deadly automobile accident on his police scanner, he recognizes the vehicle described as belonging to his good friend and old army buddy, a white jazz trumpeter. The LAPD declares the car crash an accident, but when Ingram develops his photos, he sees signs of foul play. Ingram feels compelled to play detective, even if it means putting his own life on the line. Armed with his wits, his camera, and occasionally his Colt .45, “One-Shot” Harry plunges headfirst into the seamy underbelly of LA society, tangling with racists, leftists, gangsters, zealots, and lovers, all in the hope of finding something resembling justice for a friend.
In the vein of Sex and the City, we follow a trio of Anglo-Nigerian friends. Ronke is a dentist and has a thriving practice, but can’t seem to find herself a life partner. Boo is a research scientist and mother, but more and more realizes that maybe she doesn’t want to be a parent. Simi is a successful fashion marketer with a loving husband, but struggles with imposter syndrome. Their friendship is uprooted with the introduction of Isobel, a rich girl who loves to do everything bigger and bolder. With witty and entertaining prose, Wahala explores central issues of modern city living - women’s roles, interracial relationships, multicultural identity, and friendship.
Hornclaw, a sixty-five-year-old woman in Korea, is expected to retire and live out the rest of her days quietly. For the past couple decades, she was an assassin, and she planned to keep the role until an unexpected threat appeared. This electric novel tells the story of a woman who chooses to reclaim her agency despite society trying to dispose of her.
Set in 1975, Carmen Valdez, an assistant at Triumph Comics, is one step away from achieving her dream of writing a superhero book. One of the writers secretly enlists her on a project to help create Triumph’s first female hero, “The Lethal Lynx.” But after her colleague is found dead, Carmen’s name is nowhere to be found on the manuscript handed over to the publisher. Desperate for the truth and to hold onto her piece of the hero, Carmen gets entangled in a web of secrets and resentments on her way to finding answers. This coming-of-age murder-mystery will surely be for anyone interested in comics and striving to make their dreams come true.
The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman's terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who'd happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.
Samira Wilder has never had it easy, and when her latest lousy job goes south, things only promise to get harder. Until she unexpectedly meets a man who will change her life forever. Renowned pro golfer Roland Graham is wealthy, handsome, and caring, and Samira is dazzled. Best of all, he seems to understand her better than anyone ever has. And though their relationship moves a bit fast, when Roland proposes, Samira accepts. She even agrees to relocate to his secluded Colorado mansion. After all, there’s nothing to keep her in Miami, and the mansion clearly makes him happy. Soon, they are married amid a media firestorm, and Samira can't wait to make a fresh start—as the second Mrs. Graham...
Samira settles into the mansion, blissfully happy—until she discovers long-hidden journals belonging to Roland’s late wife, Melanie, who died in a tragic accident. With each dusty page, Samira comes to realize that perhaps it was no accident at all—that perhaps her perfect husband is not as perfect as she thought. Even as her trust in Roland begins to dwindle and a shadow falls over her marriage and she begins to fear for her own life, Samira is determined to uncover the truth of Melanie’s troubled last days. But even good wives should know that the truth is not always what it seems...
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Emily Hoang is a writer and editor who is obsessed with haunted houses, ghosts, and dreams. More info can be found on her website.