Created by Gar Anthony Haywood
Shaft he ain't.
The age of the angry black dude superdick is over.
South Los Angeles black private eye, AARON GUNNER may not be an angel, but he's a long way from from Ernest Tidyman's angry, kiss-my-black-ass gumshoe. Not that anger is non-existent or that racism has suddenly vanished, but it's the 90's and Aaron's finding it increasingly difficult to view the world in simple black and white terms. At one pivotal point, he defends a white cop from the wrath of a black mob.
And he's no badmuthafucker-macho--superstud, either. Gunner is a surprisingly fallible, at times even inept, detective. He can't even decide if he wants to be a detective or help out his cousin Del, an electrician. And Haywood's insistence on covering issues ignored by most other detective writers at the time, such as race relations, black militancy, crack (as opposed to cocaine) and urban gangs, make this fine series worth checking out.
A realistic, well-written contemporary black eye was a long time in coming, but Aaron certainly was worth the wait. Unfortunately, another fine black eye, Walter Mosely's Easy Rawlins, who worked the same LA turf, came along shortly after and stole much of Aaron's thunder. But while Easy works the mean streets of the past, Gunner was very much a man of the present.
Author Gar Anthony Haywood, who says his inspiration for Gunner was the old Peter Gunn TV show, won the 1988 Best First P.I. Novel Contest, and has been nominated for several mystery awards. He also won a 1996 Shamus award for Best Short Story and an Anthony for the Gunner story, "And Pray Nobody Sees You."
But after six great novels and a couple of short stories, Haywood let the series end around the close of the millenium. Still, hope springs eternal -- a short story popped up in 2010!
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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