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Faridah Àbíke-Íyímídé on Her Favourite Thrillers by Authors of Colour

Posted on 20th June 2021 by Mark Skinner

With its tightly wound tale of anonymous agitators and explosive revelations, Faridah Àbíke-Íyímídé's gripping high school thriller is fast becoming one of the most talked-about YA novels of the year. In this exclusive piece, the author reveals the thrillers by authors of colour - both in Young Adult and contemporary adult fiction - that have shaped the writing of Ace of Spades.     

I have always loved thrillers and stories with dark, twisty plots and I am so thrilled that more and more fantastic thrillers/mysteries are being published centring on characters from a vast range of backgrounds and walks of life. There are so many phenomenal thrillers/mysteries by authors of colour that I have read over the years and loved - from stories about murderous sisters to thrilling young adult novels that interrogate the patriarchy, here are my recommendations for thrillers/mysteries by authors of colour that you should check out!

My Sister the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

My Sister the Serial Killer is a novel about sisterhood and the lengths we go to, to protect family. The story follows Korede as she is forced to help her sister Ayoola cover up the murders of Ayoola’s ex-boyfriends. With its provocative title and stunning cover, My Sister the Serial Killer is a story that immediately grabbed my attention. I loved the messy plot and the morally grey characters who you can’t help but root for, as well as the fact that the story takes place in Nigeria.

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Not just an inventive take on the serial-murder thriller, Braithwaite's blistering debut is also a tender examination of sibling relationships in an oppressively patriarchal society and a story that turns the tables on the woman-as-victim trope.
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Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

Grown is a story about a young Black girl named Enchanted who dreams of being a singer and is scouted by an influential and powerful older man in the industry. The novel is reminiscent of the Surviving R. Kelly documentary on Netflix, touching on the abuse young girls endure both in and outside of the music industry as well as the adultification and sexualisation of young Black girls. The story is thrilling and important and I couldn’t recommend it more!

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A gripping thriller that also shines a disturbing light on issues of exploitation, rape culture and toxic masculinity, Jackson's unflinching YA novel is a timely and relevant work that demands to be read.
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The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong

The Good Son is a novel about a young Korean man who wakes up covered in blood with no memory of the previous night. The reader is taken on a journey, recovering the young man’s memories and learning about his past. This story kept me on the edge of my seat, and had me constantly second guessing my theories as to what happened the night before and whether the main character Yu-jin can be trusted. The novel is not only very dark and incredibly twisted, it also has a lot of interesting conversations around toxic familial relationships. The story has a way of making you feel both claustrophobic and exposed and is generally a fantastic slow burn read.

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Deliciously twisted and violent, The Good Son mines a real-life murder case to spin a compelling story rich in twists, turns and unexpected revelations.
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The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

The Other Black Girl is a story about a young Black woman named Nella who works as an editorial assistant at a publisher. The story is expertly paced and so relatable to any person of colour who has had to navigate majority white spaces and industries.

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Following two young Black women carving their careers in the unexpectedly sinister world of book publishing, Harris’s razor-edged debut is at once a gripping thriller and a shrewd piece of social commentary.
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The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

The Death of Vivek Oji is a story about the aftermath of Vivek’s death and the effect their death has on their friends and family. This is also a story told in alternating timelines, shifting between the present and the past as Vivek’s mother tries to uncover the truth behind Vivek’s untimely passing – which she suspects was the result of foul play. This novel is beautifully written and touches on conversations of shame, sexuality and gender, with both the twists and the writing making the novel a thrilling read.

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Exploring familial tensions and the fears of an overprotective mother, The Death of Vivek Oji tells a captivating story of a Nigerian childhood and the struggle between freedom and love.
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Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Long Way Down tells the story of a boy named William Holloman who after losing his older brother feels compelled to follow the unwritten rules of his neighbourhood which say that he should exact revenge on the person who killed his brother. This story is written in verse, and while more contemporary than the aforementioned thrillers, the emotional journey Reynolds takes you on is just as thrilling as you wonder whether or not William will kill his brother’s alleged murderer or break the cycle.

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A breath-taking examination of loyalty, guilt and the self-destructive urge for retribution, Long Way Down is a verse novel set in real time and a single location that packs one hell of a punch.
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