Printer Friendly

Bland, Eleanor Taylor, ed. Shades of black; crime and mystery stories by African-American writers.

BLAND, Eleanor Taylor, ed. Shades of black; crime and mystery stories by African-American writers. Penguin, Berkley. 353p. c2004. 0-425-20014-0. $14.00. SA

This collection of stories brings together contemporary African American writers from the popular field of mystery and crime fiction. These writers, united by a common genre and writing principally about African American characters, draw upon diverse settings and eras, from the mean streets of today's big American cities to a rural highway in Georgia, a tramp freighter on Lake Michigan, a small coastal village in 1928, and a passenger train in 1946. Assorted protagonists and sleuths--police, private, and amateur detectives (among the latter a delightful trio of 11-year-old girls in one of the anthology's best stories)--solve mysteries, investigate crimes, and confront a mind-boggling assortment of modus operandi (gunshot, poison, sexual mutilation, animal attacks, and more) and assorted criminals (unhappy spouse, corrupt policeman, gun-toting cowboy, computer hacker, werewolf, and more).

This uneven anthology, comprised of 21 stories published in 2004 and one published in 2002, was designed to appeal to African American readers and fans of crime and mystery fiction. A few of the stories are superb--and those few by themselves may be sufficient justification for cautiously recommending this book to YAs as well as adult fans--but at least half of the stories are unremarkable tales lacking plausible plots or interesting characters. This kind of qualitative imbalance, however, is often found in anthologies, and readers are accustomed to finding the gold among the dross.

I would also add this caution: nearly half the selections contain profanity that some readers might find offensive (although the good news is that the most commendable stories are generally unencumbered by such problems). Tim Davis, Lit. & Comp. Instructor, Univ. of W. Florida, FL

S--Recommended for senior high school students.

A--Recommended for advanced students and adults. This code will help librarians and teachers working in high schools where there are honors and advanced placement students. This also will help extend KLIATT's usefulness in public libraries.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Kliatt
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Davis, Tim
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2005
Previous Article:Barclay, Byrna. Girl at the window.
Next Article:Czerneda, Julie E. & Szpindel, Isaac, eds. ReVisions.

Related Articles
Spooks, Spies and Private Eyes: Black Mystery, Crime and Suspense Fiction.
Committed to the Image: Contemporary Black Photographers.
The Black Sleuth.
The mystery man of the Harlem Renaissance: novelist Rudolph Fisher was a forerunner of Walter Mosley.
Orange Crushed: An Ivy League Mystery.
Frontiers of Freedom: Cincinnati's Black Community, 1802-1868.
"Urban thunder" tears black communities asunder; displacement and development whittle away at the collective psyche.
All God's children: a study on African American Mormons and guides for women of the spirit challenge the heart.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters