Bullets Across the Bay


The mystery fiction genre, in which a puzzle elemenet (often a crime) is solved, may be combined with other literary genres. An extraordinary variety of mystery mash-ups have appeared with Bay Area settings. The genres melded with Bay Area mysteries include Chick Lit, Urban Lit (also known as Ghetto Lit or Street Lit), Horror Fiction, Supernatural Fiction, Science Fiction, Romantic Suspense, Comic Fiction, and even Cat-Themed stories.

Kyra Davis
Sex, Murder and a Double Latte
Don Mills, Ont.: Red Dress Ink, 2005.
Bancroft PS3604.A972.S49 2005

This is the first entry in a series of novels about successful San Francisco mystery writer Sophie Katz, who is half black, half Jewish, and single. Sophie also has a sexy Russian-American boyfriend named Anatoly who she met, naturally, at Starbucks. When someone starts acting out the crimes from her latest book, Sophie uses herself as bait to catch the killer.

Kyra Davis
Passion, Betrayal and Killer Highlights
Don Mills, Ont.: Red Dress Ink, 2006.
Private collection

San Francisco’s Sophie Katz, the half-black, half-Jewish mystery writer heroine of Sex, Murder and a Double Latte (2005) is back. When her brother-in-law turns up dead and her sister is the prime suspect, Sophie once again enlists the help of her sexy Russian-American P.I. boyfriend Anatoly to help her solve the case.

Renay Jackson (1959- )
Oaktown Devil
Oakland, Calif.: LaDay Publishing, 2002.
Main PS3560.A2416.O3 2002 | Bancroft PS3560.A2416.O3 2002

The first novel in the author’s gritty Oaktown Mystery Series, which tell stories full of violence, drugs, and sex on the streets of Oakland. Jackson, a long-time custodian at the Oakland Police Department, received the Chester Himes Black Mystery Writers Award in 2002.

Nichelle D. Tramble
The Dying Ground: A Hip-Hop Noir Novel
New York: Strivers Row, 2001.
Main PS3570.R334.D95 2001 | Bancroft PS3570.R334.D95 2001

In the fall of 1989, the drug turf wars are intensifying on the Oakland streets. Maceo Redfield, a talented baseball player who has lost his scholarship from Cal, is trying to keep from being drawn into Oakland’s drug underworld in this tale of loyalty, violence, family secrets, and murder.

Lee Killough (1942- )
Blood Hunt
New York: TOR Horror, 1987.
Private collection

San Francisco homicide detective Garreth Mikaelian investigates a very peculiar murder—one that brings him face to face with a vampire. Now, as a vampire himself, can Garreth keep his humanity, and his job, and bring the killer to justice? The adventures of the vampire detective continue in Bloodlinks (1988) and Blood Games (2001).

Michael Fessier (1905-1988)
Fully Dressed and In His Right Mind
New York: Lion Books, 1954 (orig. pub.: New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1935).
Main 961 .F416.f | Bancroft PS3511.E83 F8 1935

Michael Fessier, a former newspaper reporter and editor, produced one of the strangest novels in the San Francisco mystery canon. John Price witnesses the shooting death of a local newspaper publisher on a crowded city street. The killer, an enigmatic little old man with strange powers and an evil eye, approaches John, confesses the crime, and insinuates himself into his life. He then proceeds to frame John for another murder, leaving it up to John’s friend, Dorgan, and a mysterious girl who likes to swim naked at night in Stow Lake to save him from hanging.

Jonathan Lethem
Gun, With Occasional Music
New York: Harcourt Brace, 1994.
Main PS3562.E8544 G86 1994

The first novel by critically-acclaimed author Jonathan Lethem is a dystopian mystery set in Oakland, following the adventures of Conrad Metcalf, a tough-guy private detective who is hired by a man who claims that he’s being framed for the murder of a prominent urologist. In Lethem’s future, technology has enabled children and animals to hyper-evolve, with intelligence and language skills that allow them to interact with adult humans. It was nominated for a Nebula Award for Best Novel of 1994 by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Lisa Lutz (1970- )
The Spellmans Strike Again
New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010.

The fourth entry in a series of comedic novels about the Spellmans, a family of private investigators who, while very close knit, are also intensely suspicious and spend most of their time investigating each other. The first book, The Spellman Files (2007) was nominated for the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the Barry Award for Best First Novel, and the Macavity Award for Best First Mystery.

Tommy Sledge
Eat Lead, Clown!
New York: Full Court Press, 1987.
Private collection

A private eye parody written by, and starring, “Tommy Sledge” (the alter-ego of stand-up comedian/actor/author Michael D. Farrow) and set in 1946 in “Friscoburg.” The Tommy Sledge character also appeared in short radio plays and on a television series that aired on the HBO Comedy Channel (predecessor to Comedy Central), 1989-1990.

Lee Lynch (1945- )
Sue Slate, Private Eye
Tallahassee, Fla.: The Naiad Press, 1989.
Private collection

Sue Slate is not only a feline private investigator, she’s also a lesbian—“Lesbicat.” While investigating the “Case of the Kidnapped Kittens,” Sue finds a human dead, which leads her to an AIDS clinic and a mystery involving new medical findings.


Early Mysteries
Dashiell Hammett
Anthony Boucher
Mystery Writers of America
Muller & Pronzini
Counter Culture and Diversity
Historic Events
Juvenile Mysteries
Cal Connection
Books on Film
Critical Resources


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