Mali Anderson
Created by Grace Edwards

Whoa, whoa, whoa, it's the Harlem Shuffle...

Sometime-sleuth MALI ANDERSON is a savvy, street-smart student working towards a Ph.D. in social work with roots deep that go deep into her Harlem working class neighborhood. But this isn't some bleak, mean streets gangsta hip hop kinda film-at-eleven version of Harlem. Instead, it's a rich, vibrant, close-knit community full of music, shops, and colourful characters, a good number of them Mali's friends or relatives. And a good number of those pals seem to get into trouble, which Mali often finds herself "getting involved in" as well.

Family and community are important to Mali. She lives with her jazz musician father Jeffrey, and her 11-year- old orphaned nephew Alvin (Mali's sister was murdered). On the romantic front, there's "gorgeous" police detective Tad Honeywell, who often lends a hand. But her best informers are a slew of Harlem beauticians who work at Bertha's Beauty salon on Eighth (now Frederick Douglass) Avenue.

So there's plenty of amateur sleuth trappings here. But it would be a mistake to dismiss Mali as just another spunky amateur sleuth. For starters, she's a former police officer herself. Okay, her careeer only lasted a couple of years, but that's because she punched out a fellow officer for essentially being a pig, but she was still a cop. So, she knows what she's doing. And at least occasionally she investigates for money. It makes a difference. And because her sexual harassment suit against the NYCPD is on-going, she's not exactly beloved by New York's Finest (except for Tad, of course).

Some sharp social commentary (there's a great poke at an unnamed DA who just has to be Rudolph Giuliani) and some great local colour in a setting too often misrepresented in fiction (and the media) goes a long way towards bringing this series home.

And it should come as no surprise to you that author Edwards was born and raised in Harlem.


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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