Created by Grace Edwards
Sometime-sleuth MALI ANDERSON is a savvy, street-smart student working towards a Ph.D. in social work with roots deep that go deep into her Harlem working class neighborhood. But this isn’t some bleak, mean streets gangsta hip-hop, film-at-eleven version of Harlem. Instead, the neighbourhood is portrayed as a rich, vibrant, close-knit community full of music, shops, and colourful characters, a good number of them Mali’s friends or relatives. Of whom a good number seem to get into trouble, which means Mali often finds herself “getting involved” as well.
Family and community are important to Mali. She lives with her jazz musician father Jeffrey, her 11-year- old nephew Alvin (Mali’s sister was murdered) and a great dane. On the romantic front, there’s “gorgeous” police detective Tad Honeywell, who often lends a hand. But her best informers are a slew of Harlem beauticians who work at Bertha’s Beauty salon on Eighth (now Frederick Douglass) Avenue.
So there’s plenty of cozy and amateur sleuth trappings here. But it would be a mistake to dismiss Mali as just another spunky dabbler. For starters, she’s a former police officer herself. Okay, so her career only lasted a couple of years, but that’s because she punched out a fellow cop for essentially being a pig, But she was a cop so she knows what she’s doing. And at least occasionally she investigates for money. It makes a difference. And because her sexual harassment suit against the NYCPD is on-going, she’s not exactly beloved by New York’s Finest (except for Tad, of course).
Some sharp social commentary (there’s a great poke at an unnamed DA who just has to be Rudolph Giuliani), with a large serving of the rich social and cultural history of Harlem on the side, and some great local colour go a long way towards bringing this series home.
And it should come as no surprise to you, given how right it all seems, that author Edwards was born and raised in Harlem.
- “Edwards is a real magician, conjuring up a working-class Harlem neighborhood and its rich blend of citizens with warmth and humor.”
— Booknews from The Poisoned Pen on Do or Die
- If I Should Die (1997) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- A Toast Before Dying (1998) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- No Time to Die (1999) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Do or Die (2000) | Buy this book | Kindle it!