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7 Crime and Mystery Books By Latinx Authors

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Mariela Santos Muñiz

Staff Writer

An avid reader and lover of words, Mariela Santos-Muniz currently works as a freelance journalist and writer. Bilingual in English and Spanish, she holds an M.A. from Boston University in International Relations and International Communications. While she learned a lot during her time in Boston and had some really cool experiences there, she's happy to now be back in warm Puerto Rico.

Who doesn’t love a bit of mystery? A gripping whodunit that may or may not have you looking over your shoulder as you turn the pages. Readers love to follow the process of an investigation and trying to guess who’s guilty, perched at the edge of their seat following all of the action. I’m sure you know what I mean. *insert the iconic Law & Order SVU theme song* Latinx authors are underrepresented in the U.S. when it comes to crime and mystery books. They are underrepresented as a whole, in other areas of the industry as well — but that’s a topic for another post. And fellow Book Riot contributors have already written on the topic of diversity and inclusion in the publishing industry. For example, a post what written asking what publishers are really doing to diversify; another post had a list of diverse picture book biographies; and the current state of disability representation in kid’s books. If you’re looking to diversify your reading list (and kudos to you if you are!), make sure to check out the following crime and mystery books by Latinx authors.

Rio Grande Fall by Rudolfo Anaya

Author Rudolfo Anaya is one of the most important writers of the Chicano Literary Movement. And in 2015, he was awarded a National Humanities Medal for “his pioneering stories of the American southwest. His works of fiction and poetry celebrate the Chicano experience and reveal universal truths about the human condition — and as an educator, he has spread a love of literature to new generations.”

His books include Tortuga: A Novel; Anaya’s most well-know work, Bless Me, Ultima; and The Sonny Bacas Novels – Rio Grande Fall is the second book in the series. In it, P.I. Sonny Baca’s investigating an accident that he thinks is murder in parallel worlds. He also wrote many plays and children’s books, per NEH.

Did you know? An elementary school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been named after the author.

Silent City: A Pete Fernandez Mystery by Alex Segura

In Silent City, Pete Fernandez is going through a rough patch in life:s he lost his job, his father has died, and he’s drinking heavily. Then someone asks him to investigate the case of a missing person. Set in Miami, it’s a tale that will uncover secrets Fernandez never expected — including some related to his later father.

This book is the first of the five Pete Fernandez books.

Segura has also written comic books, including one on The Archies. And if you’re into podcasts, you might want to check out Lethal Lit, a crime and YA podcast that he works on.

Lay Your Sleeping Head: A Henry Rios Novel by Michael Nava

This book centers on gay Latino criminal defense lawyer, Henry Rios. He gets involved in a relationship that exposes a world of serious events tied to his lover’s rich family. Rios then investigates a mysterious death, leading to more complications. This just spells trouble, doesn’t it?

According to Amazon, Nava’s Henry Rios novels have won seven Lambda Literary Awards. Plus, Nava adapted this book into an 18-episode podcast.

There are seven books in the mystery series; Nava’s latest book (which is not a Henry Rios novel) is The City of Palaces.

A Spy In the Struggle by Aya de Leon

Lawyer Yolanda Vance changes careers, goes to work for the FBI (after a scandal at the law firm she worked at), and now wants to get her past life back. She ends up in a tough position however, when she’s put on a difficult case and a new romance develops.

But she’s a spy. What side will she pick? She will have to choose to stay loyal to the FBI, or the people she’s been spying on.

Among this book’s accolades are being selected as: a Book Riot Featured Hispanic Heritage Month Book; one of Bustle’s Most Anticipated Reads for December; an Amazon Best of the Month pick; and one of CrimeReads’ Most Anticipated Crime Books of Fall 2020.

In addition to her prose novels, de Leon also writes poetry.

Killing Red by Henry Perez

Journalist Alex Chapa made a splash while reporting on the capture of a serial killer. That’s a big story in the news world. As the serial killer’s execution draws near, Chapa goes to interview him one last time, and finds out some very disturbing things.

Now Chapa is on a dangerous quest, after the serial killer tells Alex that he’s still on the prowl. In fact, the child that helped to capture the serial killers years earlier is meant to be one of his future victims.

In fiction, Perez has also written Mourn the Living, among others.

Land of Careful Shadows by Suzanne Chazin

Like many of the books in this post, Land of Careful Shadows is part of a series. It’s the first in the six-book Jimmy Vega mystery series.

Jimmy Vega is the main character, and a homicide detective. In this first book, he’s on the murder case of young Latina woman in New York; there’s also the mystery of what may have happened to a child whose identity isn’t known, but who seems to have some tie to the murdered woman.

Racism may have played a part in this crime, which is notable for Vega, since he’s a Latino. What will he uncover about his community and his surroundings?

The Cipher by Isabella Maldonado

In this book, Nina Guerrera is an FBI Special Agent. A serial killer who tried to kidnap her when she was a teenager is still keeping track on her. A video she’s in goes viral, and he carries out a terrible crime, so she’ll have to get involved in the case. He is The Cipher (in case you were wondering about the book title).

Through the internet, he finds a captive audience for his terrible actions; as Nina Guerrera tries to bring him down, everyone is watching.

The Cipher is followed up by A Different Dawn.