Mystery gets more diverse

The LA Times’ Anne Marie O’Connor profiles some of the city’s strongest additions to the genre – including Paula Woods, Gary Phillips and Naomi Hirahara –  who open windows on different aspects of society by virtue of their ethnic and racial backgrounds:

After bestselling author Walter Mosley published “Little Scarlet” — set

in the aftermath of the Watts riots — “my agent said, ‘What’s the

political issue in the next one?’ “ he said.

“At this point there are feminist, black, Japanese writers,” he

said. “And they think, ‘Hey, I could tell this story in this genre.

Certainly the people who have had critical success have spoken more to

the social implications.’ “

The protagonist of the new noir is still “the existentialist hero,

someone standing up against corruption in society,” Mosley said. But

now “there’s a critique not of bad people in society, but of society


Michael Connelly agrees. “Now the writers want to get involved in social investigations and

social reflection, of where we’re going as a society and where we’ve

been,” he said. “The framework gives you the freedom as a writer to

explore racism or class or whatever you see as significant to society.”