My Art Deco Crime Fighters of Color & Today’s Crime Writers of Color

Jane Bolin, Sam Battle, Fiorello La Guardia

Featured 1930s Crime Fighters of Color

In my 1930s Art Deco Mystery Series, it’s been an absolute joy to highlight marginalized people in history who fought to change the world when discriminatory laws were in place and the odds were stacked against them in a multitude of ways. One of my main characters is Mayor Fiorello La Guardia – New York’s three term mayor who was half-Italian and half-Jewish. It had only been about 40 years since Italians were allowed on the police force, not to mention the anti-Semitic views he endured.

I loved adding Sam Battle to the cast of characters, the NYPD’s first black officer who saved lives, stopped a riot pretty much single handedly, and changed the force’s divides in powerful ways (Langston Hughes wrote a manuscript about him (!!!) and the book One Righteous Man: Samuel Battle and the Shattering of the Color Line in New York by Arthur Browne was written from it. Highly recommend).

 Jane Bolin makes an appearance and will have future highlights. She was the first black woman to graduate Yale Law School, the first to join the NYC Bar Association, and the first to join the NYC Law Department. In 1939, Mayor La Guardia appointed her as the first female, black judge. She remained the country’s only female black judge for twenty years.(And I also gave a cameo to “Dead Shot Mary” Mary Shanley, and though I’m writing about crime fighters of color and she happened to be a white woman, I wanted to mention her because she was one of the first female detectives on the NYPD and made over 1000 arrests by the time she retired. It’s been said that she could outshoot every man on the force.)  

Crime Writers of Color

One of the great groups fighting marginalization in the publishing world has been the Crime Writers of Color. These are some of my favorite authors and many I know and love personally as friends. With the debacle of American Dirt and Barnes & Noble’s #diversitynotdiversity plan *headsmack* that was obviously NOT run by anyone BIPOC… I wanted to take the opportunity to go ahead and promote some of these fantastic authors. Which is honest-to-god the best way to promote diversity. And I can’t help thinking that my crime fighters of color, real people whom I get to bring forward out of history who made so many strides for us, would be smiling and cheering them on.

I could list all of them, but these particular authors I chose because I’ve recently done interviews with them, maybe enjoyed some French fries with, or written reviews and articles together. In alphabetical order (i.e. Ed did not pay me off. But he should have. Hah!). There’s something for everyone here from hipsters and serial killers, to ghosts and gargoyles, to true crime and trafficking, to the customs and mysteries of India, to tantalizing little but not little secrets, to a mystery in a noodle shop, to court room drama and the trials of an immigrant family, to humor and Hollywood. Enjoy!! And comment below to let us know some of your favorite under-represented authors!


Alexia Gordon – EXECUTION IN E

Vivien Chien – EGG DROP DEAD


Jennifer Hillier –  LITTLE SECRETS





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *