Crime Writers of Color Coming Attractions: April-June 2024

by Elizabeth Wilkerson

Hearing Voices

I recently finished the audiobook of James McBride's acclaimed mystery The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store. Wow, did that narrator do a fabulous job with everything from Yiddish to Italian to Southern Black dialect. His proficiency and talent brought the characters and setting to life in ways that the printed page can't.

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I love listening to audiobooks. I listen to more audiobooks than I read physical books. The first time I was exposed to an audiobook was when I was reading Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner in paperback. Someone gave me a copy of the audiobook, and I switched over to enjoy the narration performed by the author himself. His reading brought a whole other dimension to the book: there was a musicality, immediacy, and rhythm that enhanced my appreciation of the story.

While listening, at times I thought, "So that's how you pronounce that character's name!" or "That's how you say the name of that location!" I was hooked from the moment I pressed play.

There were other times when I'd pause the audiobook to consult the physical book. How did the writer punctuate that passage, or how is that name spelled? Invariably, I'd return to the audiobook, marveling at the author/narrator's interpretation.

I'm not much of a napper, but I love stretching out with an audiobook playing on my iPad. It's pure relaxation, being completely immersed in the “unbroken dream” of fiction. However, this immersive experience can be shattered by a narrator's missteps.

Sometimes, just as I'm deeply engrossed in an audiobook, if a narrator mispronounces a word, I'm yanked back to reality, the spell broken. Where is the audio version of a proofreader—a prooflistener?

Mispronunciations are particularly frustrating for writers whose books are read by narrators unfamiliar with the cultural setting, language, or dialogue. Sometimes, authors are able to make changes and suggestions, but other times, the narrator muddles through, wrestling to pronounce unfamiliar words and names.

And now, artificial intelligence is being used to narrate audiobooks. I hope that the programming is smart enough to capture—with accuracy and authenticity—the richness and texture of dialogue and setting, especially for cultures that are underrepresented on the printed page.

This spring, read and listen to upcoming releases from Crime Writers of Color!

ASH DARK AS NIGHT by Gary Phillips
Release Date: April 2, 2024
Los Angeles, August 1965. Anger and pent-up frustrations boil over, and the Watts riots explode. Crime photographer Harry Ingram is on the scene and captures an unjust killing by the police. In the aftermath, he’s also looking for a person gone missing. His investigation takes him down a rabbit hole of burglary rings, bank robberies, looted cash, and clandestine agendas—all the while grappling with his newfound fame, which puts him in the sightlines of LAPD’s secretive intelligence division.

THE BAND by Christine Ma-Kellams
Release Date: April 16, 2024
A Korean boy band at the apex of global dominion suddenly finds one of its members cancelled after a controversial solo drudges up ancient ethnic rivalries, but when he escapes by hiding out in the McMansion of a married therapist with an illustrious history of falling for the very men she wants to save, the solution to the crisis turns out to be as disruptive as the problem.

Release Date: April 16, 2024
In this heart-pounding debut thriller, a first-generation Vietnamese American artist must confront nightmares past and present. When Annie's mother, a Vietnam War refugee, dies suddenly one night, Annie’s carefully curated life begins to unravel. Her obsessive-compulsive disorder, which she thought she’d vanquished years ago, comes roaring back—but this time, the disturbing fixations swirling around in Annie’s brain might actually be coming true.

OUTRAGED by Brian Copeland
Release Date: April 23, 2024
A San Francisco investigative reporter and his sister, an SFPD Homicide Detective, look into the murders of police offers who shot unarmed African Americans without repercussions.

Release Date: April 30, 2024
Inspired by actual events, Digital Assassins II is the story of a federal government whistleblower who attempts to use the government to stop the whistleblower retaliation.

Release Date: April 30, 2024
In this twisty thriller and "compulsive page-turner" (Harlan Coben) from the award-winning author of Like a Sister, a woman thinks she’s waking up to a romantic vacation—only to find a body in her rental home and her boyfriend gone.

Release Date: May 1, 2024
For two sisters confronting the past could come at a terrible price when their story of survival in the Washington wilderness after a plane crash is called into question 25 years later in a riveting novel about a family tragedy—and family secrets.

Release Date: May 7, 2024
Sidney Taylor, a Black history professor in Washington DC, faces a career standstill after a controversial discovery. But a cryptic invite to rural Robbinsville, NC, to hunt a missing treasure with a $1,000,000 reward, lures her away. With her grandmother there and her curiosity piqued, Sidney embarks on a quest unraveling clues. Yet, as secrets surface, she's drawn into a sinister web of secret societies and ancient conspiracies that could shatter America's foundation.

BLOOD RUBIES by Mailan Doquang
Release Date: May 7, 2024
A jewel thief becomes a DIY missing persons investigator and risks everything to save the people she loves.

Release Date: May 21, 2024
Philanthropist Symone Bishop is the most desirable woman Jeremiah Touré has ever met. She’s also way out of his league, and he can't get involved with his client. Jerry knows how to protect Symone from the external threats menacing her nonprofit and her life. Can he save her from the devastating secrets the Touré Security Group uncovers? He knows he has to stay close to keep her from harm, but is he in danger of getting too close?

BLOOD IN THECUT by Alejandro Nodarse
Release Date: June 4, 2024
Iggy Guerra, fresh out of prison must earn his father’s lost trust in order to save La Carnicería Guerra from the threats imposed by a new rival business, a vigilante activist, and big-game hunter Orin, who has dragged Armando into his dangerous money-making schemes deep in the Everglades, where more than secrets are buried. Iggy will wrestle with the beauty and the danger of the place he calls home as he tries to save his family—without losing himself forever.

Release Date: June 18, 2024
A powerful, haunting thriller following a lawyer, who after the mysterious disappearance of a local landowner, uncovers a conspiracy that dates back to Reconstruction and persists in half the United States today.

A NEST OF VIPERS by Harini Nagendra

Release Date: May 2, 2024

The latest novel in the award-winning Bangalore Detectives Club series finds amateur sleuth Kaveri Murthy involved in a dangerous plot that endangers the life of the visiting Prince of Wales. This new novel takes us into the world of jadoo—Indian street magic—with sleight-of-hand magicians, snake charmers, and rope tricks. Kaveri and Ramu continue their sleuthing, with help from the Bangalore Detectives Club, amidst the growing rumblings of Indian independence and the backdrop of female emancipation.

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!

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.