Ideas for Group Discussions
Bailey, Frankie Y. Out of the Woodpile: Black Characters in Crime and Detective Fiction. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991. Comprehensive examination of the emergence and development of black characters in contemporary detective fiction. Includes the thoughts of a number of detective writers on their portrayal of black characters. Also provides information on the emergence of the black writer of detective fiction.
Binyon, T. J. Murder Will Out: The Detective in Fiction. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989. Discusses the detective as character within a variety of fictional styles, both British and American. A useful catalog of themes, plots, and settings. Not very strong, however, on African American writers or characters.
Geherin, David. The American Private Eye: The Image in Fiction. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1985. Comparative study of American detectives in fiction.
Mosley, Walter. “Walter Mosley: Writing About Easy.” Interview by Elsie B. Washington. Essence 21 (January, 1991): 32. Includes discussion by Mosley of the sources and purposes of his detective fiction.
Nolan, William F. The Black Mask Boys: Masters in the Hard-Boiled School of Detective Fiction. New York: William Morrow, 1985. Compendium of representative short fiction (by such writers as Erle Stanley Gardner, Raymond Chandler, and Dashiell Hammett) from Black Mask magazine 1920-1951, and a useful analysis of the hard-boiled style.
Skinner, Robert E. Two Guns from Harlem: The Detective Fiction of Chester Himes. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1989. Critical and historical study of Himes’s detective fiction. Provides useful information on models and African American predecessors.
Soitos, Stephen F. The Blues Detective: A Study of African American Detective Fiction. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1996. Comprehensive overview of the history of mystery and detective fiction by African American writers. Bibliographic references and index.
Wesley, Marilyn C. Violent Adventure: Contemporary Fiction by American Men. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2003. Study of masculinity in American fiction that includes a chapter on the representation of power in Devil in a Blue Dress and Ernest Gaines’s A Gathering of Old Men.
Wilson, Charles E., Jr. Walter Mosley: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2003. Complete overview of Mosley’s career, including a biographical essay, an essay on the writer’s literary heritage, and a chapter devoted to Devil in a Blue Dress.