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Eleanor Taylor Bland was one of the most prolific Black writers of crime fiction in her lifetime. This legacy began with her 1992 debut novel Dead Time, which follows Marti MacAlister—a recently widowed Black police detective who moves from Chicago to Prairie, Ill.—as she investigates the case of a murdered woman named Lauretta Dorsey. Years before the action begins, Lauretta escaped her family and wound up living at Cramer Hotel, a home for elderly, poor, and mentally ill individuals. Marti is assigned to the case with a Polish American partner, Matthew Jessenovik, or Vik, who has outdated ideas about the role of women in the force and struggles to accept his and Marti’s differences. But the pair must put their feelings aside when they learn that the killer is after the two homeless children who witnessed the murder. Bland went on to write 14 novels and several short stories, and also edited a 2004 collection of stories titled Shades of Black: Crime and Mystery Stories by African-American Authors. Her commitment to fostering diversity within the genre led to the creation of the Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award, established in 2014 by the mystery writers collective Sisters in Crime to honor her legacy. —Armani Syed

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