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The true genre of crime, although it has been around for a long time, has recently exploded in popularity. Especially with the rise of real criminal podcasts like My favorite murder and Serial and Real crime garage, among many others, many others.
But it’s no secret that the gender shows a major gap in the cases covered. While there appear to be dozens of books on white serial killers and white victims, the market is short of books written by or about people of color.
Media coverage of these cases also reflects this division. While not limited to the recent Gabby Petito case, the media show a clear preference for covering actual crime cases involving white (and often beautiful) women, while those involving Indigenous women and men and women. missing and murdered blacks receive little. It is certainly not the fault of the victims, nor a plea to stop covering these cases. But it is a problem. A lack of coverage means a lack of crowdsourcing, resources, and general awareness of the injustices committed against people of color.
If you’re a real mystery lover, here are books on missing and murdered Blacks, Indigenous people and people of color to start diversifying your shelves. Most are non-fiction, but there are also a few fiction options, if that’s more your speed.
Murder in the Bayou: Who Killed the Women Known as Jeff Davis 8? by Ethan Brown
Between 2005 and 2008, eight bodies of women were found in Jennings, Louisiana, in the parish of Jefferson Davis, hence the name “Jeff Davis 8”. Women were sex workers, impoverished or mentally ill, putting them in vulnerable situations. Most were women of color. The case is still not resolved to this day.
Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference and Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls by Jessica McDiarmid
Journalist Jessica McDiarmid examines the missing and murdered Indigenous women around the Highway of Tears in Canada. The victims and the corresponding investigations, or their absence, are recounted in meticulous and compassionate detail, revealing the racism prevalent in the justice system.
Missing from the Village: The Story of Serial Killer Bruce McArthur, the Search for Justice, and the System That Made Toronto’s Queer Community Fail by Justin Ling
From 2013 to 2018, eight men went missing from Church and Wellesley, Toronto’s gay village. As Toronto Police announced the cases were linked, they refused to admit there was a threat to the community. In 2018, however, the man responsible for the disappearances and murders of the eight men was arrested. This book examines this case and the racism and homophobia that hindered the investigation.
Invisible Victims: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women by Katherine McCarthy
McCarthy seeks to reveal “Canada’s dirty little secret”: the many cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women across the country. It also covers serial killers who have targeted Indigenous women, many of whom have not been screened by Canadian law enforcement due to their indifference. This is must read. Be careful, this is sure to make you angry!
The Dead Girl: A True Story by Melanie Thernstrom
Melanie Thernstrom’s best friend, Roberta “Bibbi” Lee, has disappeared after running an errand with her boyfriend. He came back alone. Bibbi was dating Berkley at the time. It was 1984. A month later, Bibbi’s body was found on a trail in Oakland. The dead girl is a first person recounting the events of Melanie, both the facts and the feelings as she reflects on this time.
Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhanon
Autumn Spencer’s sister climbs onto the roof of their apartment building and is never seen again. The local police are indifferent, the matter is too confusing to make any sense. That, combined with the recent death of her mother, makes her falter. This quick and sharp novel about missing women, lack of law enforcement and the invisibility of victims is sure to entertain as it educates.
Monday Doesn’t Happen by Tiffany D. Jackson
Claudia, 14, and Monday are inseparable. That is, until Monday is gone. No one, however, seems to notice it except her. After trying to get answers from Monday’s mother and sister to no avail, she is distraught. Why doesn’t anyone seem to care? It’s captivating and heartbreaking and will leave you thinking about Monday long after you’re done.
Witness, I’m from Gregory Scofield
Gregory Scofield is one of Canada’s most recognized poets. In this collection, he focuses on identity, belonging, and missing and murdered Indigenous women from his home country. Some autobiographical, some fictionalized, everything is moving. I strongly suggest that you read them aloud to better understand the rhythm of these poems.
Missing Nimama by Melanie Florence and François Thisdale
This children’s book is a great place to start teaching children about the too many missing and murdered Indigenous women. In Niamama lack, a young mother who is one of the missing Indigenous women, watches over her daughter as she goes through the important stages of her life. It is told in free verse with beautiful illustrations to accompany the sad and moving story.
To learn more about missing and murdered people of color, I suggest the Our Black Girls website which shares underrepresented cases of missing and murdered black women and these five books on missing and murdered Indigenous women.