15 Gripping Mystery Novels Written by Black Women — Don't Read Them in the Dark!
I love a good murder-mystery novel as much as the next reader, but as an avid fan of the genre, it's a rarity to see myself in any of the main characters. While, in the bigger picture, it's a good thing not to relate to the creepy characters we read about, it would be nice to read from the point of view of someone like myself. With struggles similar to mine, hair like mine, a job like mine — but in the entertaining and suspenseful realm of a thriller novel. Here are 15 killer recommends for mystery novels written by Black women. While you'll surely want to read one immediately after the other, you'll need to wait until later in the year for a few of these to be released!
My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
If you're a fan of murder mysteries, Korde's sister, Ayoola, takes family drama to a whole new level in My Sister, The Serial Killer. The story follows the two sisters living with their family in Nigeria. Ayoola is the one who dates men and discards them when she's done with the relationship, and Korde is the one who always cleans up the mess, because, well . . . it's her little sister. But when Ayoola begins to date a man her sister is in love with, it may be the last straw.
Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon
Speaking of Summer follows Autumn Spencer and her journey to find her missing sister, Summer, who disappeared in Harlem. Without any clues, any suspects, or any police assistance, Autumn starts to dig into her sister's disappearance herself, uncovering a string of missing and murdered women with similar stories — all while simultaneously dealing with her mother's recent death. Will she get the answers she needs before it takes a toll?
Lakewood by Megan Giddings
Science fiction, horror, and mystery are all the genres you'll get with Lakewood. After Lena's grandmother passes away, she quits her job and moves home to Lakewood, MI, to help support her family. She scores a new, high-paying job in town, but there's a big catch: secret medical experiments. What she discovers is thrilling and terrifying.
A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Collette
A Deadly Inside Scoop is a quirky, fun thriller about Bronwyn "Win," a girl who has just taken over her family's ice cream shop. On her opening day, she finds a body in the snow and discovers that the victim is somehow connected to her family and the shop. Win and her best friend, Maisie, try to get to the bottom of this mystery, for the sake of her family name. These characters are fun and lovable, and you'll root for them right from the beginning. Author Abby Collette reminds us that not all mystery novels have to be dark and dull.
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
The Other Black Girl, out June 1, is a psychological thriller for the modern-day working girl. Described as "perfect for anyone who has ever felt manipulated, threatened, or overlooked in the workplace," it follows Nella, an editorial assistant tired of being the only Black girl in the office. When Hazel arrives, Nella is ecstatic. But after a promotion, she begins to receive threatening letters telling her to "leave" and "get out." This novel is filled with suspenseful twists and turns as Nella is determined to find who is sending her threats.
Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas
Catherine House is a bestselling novel about a boarding school that creates greats. Presidents and Supreme Court justices come from Catherine House, but everyone who attends has gone through the same odd ritual. A mandatory three years at the school with no contact with the outside world is agreed upon acceptance. In return, the lasting graduates are promised success. When Ines's roommate is suddenly killed, she begins to wonder what she's gotten herself into by attending Catherine and the dark secrets that lie within the school walls to allow such prestige.
Saving Ruby King by Catherine Adel West
Ah, secrets . . . they never stay secrets for long, do they? In Saving Ruby King, Layla does everything she can to protect her best friend, Ruby, from her violent father — even though Layla is prohibited from seeing Ruby by her preacher father. Layla doesn't give up and learns a lot of dark secrets about her family along the way; things that have been hidden for generations. This is a thrilling story about faith, family secrets, and the police's dismissal of a murder in a Black Chicago neighborhood.
When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris
When You Look Like Us is told from the perspective of Jay Murphy, a young man who, at first, is among those who don't think much when his sister doesn't come home. When you're Black and living in the projects, the police often think you deserve what you get . . . even if you go missing. Jay is on a mission to find his sister because the amount of time that's passed now is not normal and he knows something is wrong. Reviewers rave about this page-turner mystery being a very timely must read for 2021.
And Now She's Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall
The big mystery in And Now She's Gone is whether the missing want to be found. That's the question Grayson Sykes asks herself when Isabel Lincoln disappears. Is she just a runaway, or is there foul play involved? Would someone really just abandon their entire life? As secrets become uncovered, Grayson learns that running may have been the only answer. This novel is a witty page-turner that will keep you on your toes the entire time.
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
The anonymous texts, the secrecy, the private school . . . this novel reminds me a lot of Gossip Girl, but darker. Ace of Spades follows Devon Richards and Chiamaka Adebayo, two students in the running for valedictorian at Niveus Private Academy. But when texts by someone named Aces are sent throughout the school with detrimental secrets about both of them, their bright futures slowly dim . . . and they're scared. As the "game" escalates to dangerous territory, the two students try to stop Aces before anyone gets killed. Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé's debut novel will be out on June 1.
Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia
Dead Dead Girls takes place in 1926 Harlem. During this time, Louise Lloyd is trying to live normally despite the fact that young Black girls like her are being murdered around the city. After an altercation with the police, Louise gets the choice to help solve the case and catch a killer — or go to jail. She chooses to help, and her intense journey begins. You'll have to wait for this one — it's out June 1!
My Mother's House by Francesca Momplaisir
Lucien and Marie-Ange are the main characters in this mysterious, ominous, and creepy novel. My Mother's House follows the couple after they immigrate from Haiti to New York and build a safe haven for fellow immigrants to find food, shelter, and any other help they may need. One day, they get a guest who brings a haunting presence into their home. This novel gets very dark in the evils it presents and is thrilling, to say the least.
Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall
The thrilling story of Land of Shadows takes us through the mysterious death of a teenager in Los Angeles and the detectives, Elouise and Colin, who are on the case. When Elouise notices similarities to her own sister's unsolved murder, she senses there is more than meets the eye.
Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon
Murder in G Major is quickly becoming a classic in the mystery genre. This award-winning novel is the first book in a five-part series that follows Gethsemane, a woman housesitting in Ireland and working as a music teacher. Of course, there's a catch when you're asked to housesit a gorgeous house in exchange for a job . . .
Sex, Murder and a Double Latte by Kyra Davis
What if you wrote the story of your own death? That's exactly what Sophie Katz believes is happening as murders, similar to the ones in her scribe, begin happening around the city. Sex, Murder and a Double Latte takes you through the sudden romance, mysterious murders, and potential suspects that Sophie comes across.