I’m so excited about this subscription plan because we’re going to be reading books of historical and contemporary importance in crime fiction. Each month will have a theme, and my goal is to offer a tremendous amount of variety from month to month. We all have different reading tastes, but the books that will be chosen for this plan are books that have stood the test of time and objectively contain value within the crime fiction world - so make sure you give all the selections a fair shot. - McKenna
We’re kicking things off with Harlem. I was inspired to choose this theme because HarperCollins Detective Club Classics (UK) has just this month reissued a book that has not been in print in many years - The Conjure-Man Dies: A Mystery of Dark Harlem by Rudolph Fisher. Written in 1932 during the Harlem Renaissance, this novel is considered to be the first detective novel (non-serialized) by an African American. This mix of golden-age mystery featuring an impossible crime and hard-boiled detective novel is the sole published work by the author - a physician who died two years after publication.
Our other selection this month is the first in the classic Harlem Detective series by Chester Himes - A Rage in Harlem (also published as For Love of Imabelle - 1957. Himes wrote about two Black NYPD detectives - Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson - in a series of eight books, highly respected in the crime fiction world and (in my opinion) on the same level as Hammett, Chandler and Cain. His world can be darkly comic, gritty, and sad all in the turn of a page, and the vibrancy of Harlem - the soul food, the jazz, and everything in between - is equal to that of Raymond Chandler’s LA.
The first in the NYT-bestselling series featuring Easy Rawlins, a Black LA Detective, walking the mean streets. Mosley credits much of his writing inspiration to Chester Himes
One of my all-time favorite series is coming back into print in July - the Nanette Hayes series by Charlotte Carter (set in Harlem). These are a bit lighter in tone and so great!