Crime Writers of Color Coming Attractions: October-December 2023

by Elizabeth Wilkerson

Portuguese Crime Stories

Before traveling internationally, I like to read mysteries set in the destination by writers from that location. After being holed up during the pandemic years, my husband and I decided to head out from Philadelphia and embark on our first international trip in what felt like eons — to a continent we hadn’t visited for decades and a country we’d never been to: Portugal.

I was surprised I couldn’t find any present-day mysteries by Portuguese writers. And I couldn’t find much in the way of contemporary Portuguese cinema, which puzzled me given the breadth of cinematic masterpieces produced in neighboring Spain.

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And so I set off for Portugal relatively unprepared except for a vague sense of unease after seeing news coverage of Black people attacked and killed in Europe. I imagined landing in Portugal and being an obvious target for violence, a focal point, as a Black person in a white country. Just as my brother had been jumped and beaten up in a shopping mall in Paris.

Imagine my surprise when I arrived in Lisbon and saw a wide range of skin tones, hair texture, and eye color. I saw more diversity than back in Philly. I felt like I comfortably fit in. Until I’d encounter someone who looked like another Black tourist in Portugal. I’d greet them in English only to be met with a confused stare of incomprehension. Or, bumping along the cobblestone streets in my wheelchair, I'd spy another Black person and tip my head in the universal African-American "I see you" nod. But I wouldn't get a head tip in return.

Who were all these multi-hued people in Portugal? I felt tempted to ask the one ignorant question, the nosy and objectifying inquiry all people of color recoil at. I wanted to ask, “What ARE you?”

I took an eye-opening tour that explored Portugal’s pivotal role in the trafficking of enslaved Africans. I had no idea that the Portuguese initiated the despicable practice and were the last country to relinquish it, after transporting an estimated 5.8 million people — men, women, and children — over the course of four centuries, comprising over 46 percent of the total transatlantic slave trade. 

An Uber driver pointed to Lisbon’s maritime gateway in Belem. Days earlier, I’d been munching on Belem’s famous pasteis pastries, so delectable that even Trader Joe’s started importing them.

The driver said that that waterway had historically been the launching-off point for Portuguese ships headed for the New World. What he didn’t say, but what my mind filled in, was that after embarking, the vessels continued down the coast of western Africa before heading across the Atlantic laden with living, breathing freight.

I don’t need to take a 23andMe DNA test to know some of that “cargo” were my ancestors. The abominable industry the Portuguese founded, the transatlantic trade of stolen human lives, became the economic engine that fueled the United States’ ascension to superpower status.

The lack of contemporary Portuguese narratives, translated and ready for distribution outside of the country, reminded me of the importance of cultural representation. Not only as a bridge for outsiders to understand a culture as presented by those living it, but also as a way for people in the culture to identify, support each other, and feel seen.

Crime Writers of Color offers visitors an on-ramp to our individual world viewpoints. And a welcome home, a nod of recognition, for people with shared experiences.

The Alchemist of Monsters and Mayhem by Gigi Pandian

Release Date: October 10, 2023, Gargoyle Girl Productions

Murder in a conservatory of carnivorous plants. Bewitching topiary terrors. A sabotaged tea shop. Can alchemist Zoe Faust untangle the truth before someone close to her takes the blame? In the seventh installment in the multi-award-winning Accidental Alchemist Mystery Series, Zoe and her gargoyle sidekick Dorian find themselves entangled in the vines of a closed circle mystery at an eerie mansion high in the Portland hills.

The Unvarnished Gary Phillips: A Mondo Pulp Collection by Gary Phillips

Release Date: October 10, 2023, Three Rooms Press

Grindhouse melds with blaxploitation along with strong doses of hardcore B movie drive-in fare in the 17 stories of The Unvarnished Gary Phillips: A Mondo Pulp Collection.

In The Dark I See You by Mallika Narayanan

Release Date: October 24, 2023, Union Square & Co.

A young woman, Sarah Connelly, is found murdered in her home in New York’s elite Sleepy Point suburb. It triggers questions about the neighbor who discovered the body, Audrey Hughes, who moved to Sleepy Point for a quiet new start after a trauma left her with incurable blindness. The deeper the police delve into the case, the murkier the truth becomes, and the ticking clock of investigation collides with the explosive secrets Audrey and Sarah have been keeping.

Hollow Voices by Michelle Corbier

Release Date: November 6, 2023

Pediatrician, Julia Toussaint is recovering after the death of her son. She starts over with a new job but must remember what happened after her son's death before taking the ultimate step with fatal consequences.

Malice, Matrimony, and Murder  by Joslyn Chase, Charlotte Morganti, P.M. Raymond, Paige Sleuth, Teresa Inge, Sally Milliken, Rebecca Olmstead, Nikki Knight, Shari Held, Barbara Howard, Ashley-Ruth M. Bernier, KD Sherrinford, Stephen D. Rogers, Elaine Togneri, Lynn Hesse, Margaret S. Hamilton, Stella Oni, Robert Petyo, Pamela Kyel, Karen McCullough, Wil A. Emerson, Jack Bates, J. Aquino, Sharyn Kolberg, and Becky Clark

Release Date: November 13, 2023

Over two dozen authors have teamed up to offer you this wedding-themed collection of brand-new cozy mystery and crime fiction stories. Plus, solve the overarching wedding whodunit and access a special e-book filled with bonuses and extras. If you're drawn to shorter mysteries that are light on gore and language, and high on humor, entertainment, and happy endings, then this anthology is for you!

Murder on Tour  by V. M. Burns

Release Date: November 27, 2023, Kensington Cozies

The last stop on Samantha Washington's whirlwind book tour is a prestigious book festival in Sam’s hometown of North Harbor, Michigan. When a publicist is poisoned during a cocktail reception, Sam wonders if the killer missed the intended target. Sam tries to solve the case before the festival delivers another fatality . . .



Fall by Tracy Clark

Release Date: December 5, 2023, Thomas & Mercer

In the second book in the Detective Harriet Foster thriller series, author Tracy Clark weaves a twisted journey into the underbelly of Chicago as Harriet and her team work to unmask a serial killer stalking the city’s aldermen. The Chicago PD is on high alert when two city aldermen are found dead: one by apparent suicide, one brutally stabbed in his office, and both with thirty dimes left on their bodies—a betrayer’s payment. With no other clues, the question is, who else has a debt to pay?

Sniffing Out Murder by Kallie E. Benjamin

Release Date: December 5, 2023, Berkley

After deciding that life as a teacher wasn’t right for her, Priscilla found inspiration for her first children’s book in her three-year-old bloodhound’s nose for truth, and so The Adventures of Bailey the Bloodhound was born. After the book’s massively pawsitive response, Pris moved back to her hometown of Crosbyville, Indiana to continue the series. She’s surprised by how things have changed in the town, but even more so how they haven’t. Pris is frustrated to discover that

The Spice Code (The Clover City Files Book 2) by Barbara Howard

Release Date: December 6, 2023

Meet Raphael Parera, a restaurant owner and chef whose life takes a dark and treacherous turn when he falls for the captivating charms of Isabella. Little does he know, his newfound love is hiding a sinister secret – she's a cold-blooded murderer. Entrapped and kidnapped by Isabella, Raphael’s only lifeline is a bag of groceries containing cryptic ingredients that hold the key to his location.

Music City Devils by Lekecia Barclay

Release Date: December 7, 2023

After surviving a brush with a killer, Evoni has left her big law job and partnered with Bri to open Justice Sisters Agency, a legal/investigative agency. Now the Justice Sisters are in a race against time to find their kidnapped friend and keep their client from being prosecuted for a murder he didn’t commit. With no hard evidence or leads, can Evoni, Bri, and Mari solve both crimes before time runs out for one or both?

Coconut Drop Dead: A Spice Isle Bakery Mystery, Book 3 by Olivia Matthews 

Release Date: December 26, 2023, St.Martins

When the female lead singer of an up-and-coming reggae band is murdered during the Caribbean American Heritage Festival, Lyndsay and her family are determined to make sure her killer faces the music.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section in Kings River Life and in our mystery category here on KRL News & Reviews. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. And check out our new mystery podcast which features mystery short stories and first chapters read by local actors! A new episode went up this week. 

CWOC author Alex Segura was featured on a recent episode of Mysteryrat's Maze Podcast. Click here to listen or listen on the player below:

Elizabeth Wilkerson was one of Silicon Valley’s first cyberlawyers and now writes thrillers with a tech edge. A native of Cleveland, her debut novel is Tokyo Firewall. You can learn more on her website.
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