The best books that dive into great writing with crime writers of color

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was participating on a crime fiction panel in 2022, we were all asked to recommend books, and I was struck that none of us mentioned a book by a writer of color. Since I knew there were many excellent books by writers of color, I felt this was something I needed to fix. This past summer I decided to make a concerted effort to read more books by writers of color/#OwnVoices, and looked to members of Crime Writers of Color as a starting point. Encouraged by that very exciting read, I went to Bouchercon in Minneapolis where the association Crime Writers of Color was actively promoting the works of their members.


I wrote...

A Short Time To Die

By Susan Bickford,

Book cover of A Short Time To Die

What is my book about?

Walking home on a foggy night in rural New York, Marly Shaw stops in the glare of approaching headlights. Two men step out of a pickup truck. A sudden, desperate chase erupts in gunshots. And a terrified girl is on the run—for the rest of her life…

Thirteen years later, human bones discovered in California are linked to two missing people from Central New York. Sheriff’s Detective Vanessa Alba and her partner dive into an investigation that lures them deep into the Finger Lakes region. There they find a community in the brutal grip of a powerful family—and a trail of dark secrets leading to the one family member who thought she got away…

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Killing Fire

Susan Bickford Why did I love this book?

This book is so much more than a police procedural set in the South with a Black female detective as its protagonist. Snowden writes Southern Gothic stories with all the wonderful emotional obsessions and foreboding suspense that anchor that genre. As the child of a serial killer, Detective Raven Burns witnessed many of her father’s deadly attacks, including the murder of Raven’s mother. Haunted by her past, Raven struggles with both real life and personal demons to secure justice for victims in the present.

By Faye Snowden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Killing Fire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Full-bodied and dynamic characters carry this one along a mystery, tying a brutal past with a bloody present that will keep you guessing right up to the finale." - Unnerving Magazine

As a child forced to witness her father's crimes, homicide Detective Raven Burns dedicates every waking moment to proving that she is not her father's child. But when she shoots a suspect who has what turns out to be an unloaded weapon, Raven finds that she must confront both the demons of her past and the stains on her soul in order to stop a killer.

FLAME TREE PRESS…


Book cover of Razorblade Tears

Susan Bickford Why did I love this book?

I love that S.A. Cosby weaves sly, ironic humor into his protagonist’s observations, often about race and living in Southern Virginia. Even better, the wives and girlfriends are much smarter and more competent than the men. It has been years since Ike Randolph did time. He is determined to be a dedicated family man, but he can’t help himself when his son is murdered along with his white husband. Partly driven by vengeance and partly by guilt for how he treated his gay son, Ike teams up with Buddy Lee, the other father. Buddy is as flawed and guilty as Ike, but together they set out to put things right

By S.A. Cosby,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Razorblade Tears as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER* One of Barack Obama's Recommended Reads for Summer • New York Times Notable Book • NPR’s Best Books of 2021 • Washington Post’s Best Thriller and Mystery Books of the Year • TIME Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books of 2021 • New York Public Library’s Best Books of the Year • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee • Book of the Month’s Book of the Year Finalist
“Provocative, violent — beautiful and moving, too.” —Washington Post
“Superb...Cuts right to the heart of the most important questions of our times.” —Michael Connelly
“A tour de force – poignant, action-packed,…


Book cover of Like a Sister

Susan Bickford Why did I love this book?

Kellye Garrett is a master of snappy dialog and takes on human behavior. No one is spared, least of all the protagonist herself. However, Lena Pierce’s situation is not funny. After her family was ripped apart by her highly successful but difficult father, a music mogul, Lena has lived life on her own independent terms. Now Lena’s estranged half-sister, Desiree—a reality TV staris dead of an overdose in the Bronx, blocks from Lena’s house. Convinced that Desiree was murdered, Lena tracks down what happened to her sister’s life. Pulled into the spotlight of media attention on Desiree and their father, Lena has her work cut out for her.

By Kellye Garrett,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Like a Sister as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this "crackling domestic suspense" filled with "wry humor and deft pacing" (Alyssa Cole), no one bats an eye when a Black reality TV star is found dead—except her estranged half-sister, whose refusal to believe the official story leads her on a dangerous search for the truth.

“A mystery that has everything I love most: an intriguing set up; an absorbing storyline that kept me guessing; a satisfying ending; and, most of all, incredibly well-developed characters I kept thinking about long after I finished the book.” ―Jasmine Guillory, Today Show

“I found out my sister was back in New York…


Book cover of They All Fall Down

Susan Bickford Why did I love this book?

When I heard an interview on NPR with Rachel Howzell Hall, I knew she needed to be on my list. Rachel is very prolific, so the book was a tough choice. Since I tend to prefer standalones over series, I picked They All Fall Down, a novel of suspense and a delicious take on the locked room mystery—in this case a luxurious remote private island in Mexico. Each of the seven guests has a dark past they would like to hide, including the narrator, Miriam Macy. Soon, the stranded guests are being outed and dispatched. Who will be next? We’re rooting for Miriam as her tale gradually unrolls. 

By Rachel Howzell Hall,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked They All Fall Down as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Seven strangers, each harboring a secret.

Odd accidents stir suspicion.

As one by one . . . . . They all fall down


Book cover of Bluebird, Bluebird

Susan Bickford Why did I love this book?

Edgar Award-winner Bluebird, Bluebird, is the first in the Jay Porter Series. Black Texas Ranger, Jay Porter, tried to escape East Texas and become a lawyer, but his home and people clawed him back. Jay is on the verge of losing his prestigious job, his reputation in tatters, when he heads to a tiny rural town to investigate the death of a visiting Black lawyer from Chicago and the seemingly separate death of a local white woman. Locke deftly reveals how the persistent stain of racism continues to poison many facets of life, while the law enforcement hierarchies and jurisdictional infighting threaten to undo Jay’s best efforts.

By Attica Locke,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Bluebird, Bluebird as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award 2018
2018 Edgar Award Winner for best novel

When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules - a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger working the backwoods towns of Highway 59, knows all too well. Deeply conflicted about his home state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him back.

So when allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he travels up Highway 59 to the small town…


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Lap Baby

By Amy Q. Barker,

Book cover of Lap Baby

Amy Q. Barker Author Of Lap Baby

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Avid reader Nature lover Park ranger wanna be Best Nana ever

Amy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

A story you'll never forget about survival, forgiveness, healing, and love.

Twenty years ago. A plane crash. Three women survivors are inexorably connected by fate, destiny, and a cause. 

Julie Geiger, a flight attendant, told five sets of parents to place their babies on the floor of the plane when it was going down. Now, she must live with the consequences. Will changing the emergency rules bring her healing and forgiveness? And where does love fit into her life now?

Marie Stanley lost her baby boy on that flight. And she knows exactly who to blame. Julie. The problem is that vindictiveness festers. And eats into your soul. How will Marie learn to move past her hate and save her marriage in the process?

Paige Montgomery, the lap baby who survived the flight, would love to forget it ever happened. After all, she’s happy. And she’s on the cusp of a new relationship. How will she learn to forge her own path, one that integrates all the elements of her past, including the crash, the loss of her parents, and her subsequent adoption?

Lap Baby

By Amy Q. Barker,

What is this book about?

Twenty years ago. A plane crash. Three women survivors inexorably connected by fate, destiny, and a cause.

Did you know that lap babies (children under the age of two) are instructed to be placed on the floor of a plane during an emergency? Sounds crazy, but it’s true.

Julie Geiger, a flight attendant, told five sets of parents to do just that. Now she must live with the consequences. Will changing the rules bring her healing and forgiveness? And where does love fit into her life now?

Marie Stanley lost her baby boy on that flight. And she knows exactly…


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