September 29, 2006
Best Native mystery writers
'American Indian Mysteries': A Crossover Genre Not Quite There
Taking all factors into account, two writers deserve pre-eminience in this field after the runaway leader, Tony Hillerman. The first is Thomas King, a Cherokee author and literary scholar who has written what one can only hope will be the first in a series of mystery novels with an American Indian protagonist and a thoroughly detailed and accurate American Indian milieu: DreadfulWeather Shows Up. King's mainstream Indian novels are humorous, magical, and well worth finding; he is the author of Medicine River, for example. Thumps DreadfulWater promises to be a unique addition to crime fiction. In terms of accomplishments, the only writer with work comparable to Tony Hillerman's Navajo series is Thomas Perry, an English professor and mystery writer originally from the Rochester/Buffalo area of western New York, near the Seneca reservations. There are other writers of equal talent, but none of them has the combination of subject matter and genre mastery that makes the work of Perry and King stand out from the pack. Other exceptional authors who mine the genre effectively are recent entry Kirk Mitchell, anthropologist Margaret Coel, and Mardi Oakley Medawar, whose Tay-bodal novels are, in a word, unique.Comment: Correspondent Eulala Pegram confirms that of the mystery authors she read, Thomas Perry was the best.