Grayson Sykes

Created by Rachel Howzell Hall

When we first meet her in her impressive, angry debut, And Now She’s Gone (2020), rookie gumshoe GRAYSON SYKES is pushing forty, but she’s mostly in a good place.

Or at least that’s what she keeps telling herself.

It seems she has the obligatory troubled past, plus a double-barrel secret in the back of her brain, and her very first assignment for her new employer, Rader Consulting, a detective agency based in Los Angeles, pretty much drags all her own emotional and psychological baggage kicking and screaming back into the present.

The assignment is to track down a missing woman, Isabel Lincoln, who may not be missing at all. Seems her doctor boyfriend–a friend of Grayson’s new boss–is rumoured to be a little slap happy.

And then Grayson starts receiving texts, purportedly from Isabel, asking her to give up looking for her. As she digs deeper and deeper into Isabel’s past, connections sputter and spark, and her own messy past rises to the surface, whether she wants it to or not. It ain’t pretty.

Fortunately, the detective’s backstory is handled with far better effect than most, rather than just something checked off on a list to make things more “edgy.” Refreshingly, the author uses Grayson’s past to illuminate and enrich the plot, and even better is how Grayson handles it with grace, a fair amount of snark, a commendable amount of down-to-earth humanity, and more than a hefty dose of true grit. She’s not Wonder Woman or the Black Panther, but in rising up against a past that would drag most people down, down, down, she does seem damn right heroic. And her masterful coping with the new job blues is sure to ring a bell with anyone who ever had to work for a living.

Damaged goods detectives are a dime a dozen, but Howzell Hall manages to pull it off with verve, wit and a dark but optimistic humanity. Whether this will remain just a kick ass standalone, or the start of a major new series, And Now She’s Gone deserves–or possibly demands–to be read.


Rachel Howzell Hall is probably best known (so far) for the acclaimed Lou Norton series, about a Black LAPD homicide jane, or maybe for being the co-author of The Good Sister with James Patterson. Me, I sorta know her for her writing for NPR’s Crime in the City series. She is currently on the board of directors for the Southern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and lives in Los Angeles.


  • “And Now She’s Gone has all the mystery of a classic whodunnit, with an undeniably fresh and clever voice. Hall exemplifies the best of the modern PI novel.”
    — Alafair Burke on Now She’s Gone
  • “Smart, packed with dialogue that sings on the page, Hall’s novel turns the tables on our expectations at every turn, bringing us closer to truth than if it were forced on us in school.”
    — Walter Mosley on Now She’s Gone
  • “An entertainingly twisty plot, a rich and layered sense of place, and most of all a main character who pops off the page. Gray Sykes is hugely engaging and deeply complex, a descendant of Philip Marlowe and Easy Rawlings who is also definitely, absolutely her own woman.”
    — Lou Berney on Now She’s Gone
  • “And Now She’s Gone is a perfect blend of PI novel and psychological suspense that will have readers wanting more.”
    — Kellye Garrett


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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