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Eleanor Taylor Bland Books In Order

Publication Order of Marti MacAlister Books

Dead Time (1992) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Slow Burn (1993) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Gone Quiet (1994) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Done Wrong (1995) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Keep Still (1996) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
See No Evil (1998) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Tell No Tales (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Scream in Silence (2000) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Whispers in the Dark (2001) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Windy City Dying (2002) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Fatal Remains (2003) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Cold and Silent Dying (2004) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Dark and Deadly Deception (2005) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle


Let’s face it: We all really love to read a good murder, which we know to be fictional. Why? Possibly because a murder is still the ultimate link to our own sense of mortality: We can relate to it, as we can relate to the idea of loss and that of finding the guilty culprit and seeing him or her punished appropriately. Knowing that it’s a fictional murder, means we know that it will reach satisfying closure, where the criminals go to jail and the good of society prevails. And that there are probably delicious hairpin bends in the tale to keep us interested. For probably all of these reasons, crime fiction is the genre of American novelist Eleanor Taylor Bland.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1944, to a couple of mixed race, this very popular African-American writer had an intensely dramatic life, which saw her married to a sailor committed to the United States Navy, when she was just 14 years old. She took on the responsibilities of grown up life at the Naval Station Great Lakes in North Chicago, Illinois. While she was in her 30s, Taylor Bland developed a colon disease called Gardner’s syndrome and doctors didn’t give her long to live, but she proved tougher than that, and also tougher than several bouts of cancer which affected her in later years. Indeed, Taylor Bland is recorded as having commented that her illnesses served to spur her on and do what had to be done, because she learned to appreciate the fact that every day became of value and she had things to achieve in her life, however short it might be.

Owing to the interruption of her education by her very early marriage, Taylor Bland was only able to complete her schooling many years later, and she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Illinois in 1981. She enjoyed a considerably lengthy career as a cost accountant for Abbott Laboratories, a healthcare company, from the time she graduated, until 1999. It was an important time of her life, which saw her develop the courage to separate from her husband after 31 years and launch her creative career as a writer.

Taylor Bland continued writing until 2007, editing an important anthology of detective stories called Shades of Black: Crime and Mystery Stories by African American Authors which was published in 2004. She died in 2010 from complications relating to Gardner’s syndrome, some 35 years after first being diagnosed. An annual award of $1 500 for previously unpublished crime fiction writers of color was established in the name of Eleanor Taylor Bland, to encourage new writers in this field, by an organization called Sisters in Crime. Taylor Bland had been a member of Sister in Crime during her life time and was a strong contributing member to crime writer groups such as the Chicago-based Red Herring and the Mystery Writers of America. She has been remembered as a writer who would never turn down a request to read the writing of a novice novelist, sincerely believing in the value of offering constructive criticism to her peers.

Instinctively a writer with a strong sense of the texture of a socio-political context, Taylor Bland started submitting her novels to publishers in the early 1990s. While her first novel Slow Burn was rejected by publishers and only published in 1993, it was her second novel, Dead Time that was first published in 1992, to significant acclaim. It’s a novel which is still being read and reviewed today with much enthusiasm. Dead Time effectively saw the character of sleuth Marti MacAlister, an African-American police detective who had recently been transferred to a small town called Lincoln Prairie in Illinois, from the Chicago police precinct, come to vibrant and relevant life.

Recently widowed, and the mother of two, Marti is determined, in a racially aware and often misogynistic world, to prove that women – and black women at that – could indeed, have a key place on a professional homicide team.

Marti became a signature for Taylor Bland who she developed in her character and her rather unique ground-breaking career, with the body of fourteen novels she wrote between 1992 and three years before her death at the age of 65. Challenging the well-used and mostly negative stereotypes where a black woman in fiction is either a prostitute or a “mammy”, Marti is a passionate, dignified professional with a mission. She takes herself seriously and faces important challenges every day. She works with Matthew ‘Vik’ Jessenovik, a young male cop of Polish extraction and together they offer a balance of socio-political and investigative values. Marti is streetwise and urban savvy. She comes of Baptist roots. Vik is a small-town, detail-sensitive kind of guy with a Roman Catholic upbringing. Together they explore and learn about and resolve issues central to life in Illinois, touching on everything from the taboos of mental illness and the devastation of homeless children and poverty to issues surrounding drug trading and domestic abuse. But unlike a lot of contemporary fictional cops, Marti and Vik have family lives which are important to who they are; over and above the central thread of crime story in her books, Eleanor Taylor Bland writes of how family dynamics contribute significantly to a healthy existence.

As a counterpoint to the idea of brutal murder, Taylor Bland’s novels present a wholesome reflection of moral social values. Living in the city of Waukegan, Illinois until her death, Taylor Bland, who had two sons, and helped to raise her five grandchildren, was always a proactive and ardent supporter of the culture of reading, and was an active and committed member of the board of the Waukegan Public Library. She also chaired the Friends of the Library in that city. But more than this, Waukegan, a city which comprises a mix of blue-collar and white-collar residents, rich and poor, black and white, with its own crime statistics, has served as a significant melting pot and source material for Taylor Bland’s stories, and critics have over the years speculated that many of her stories drew from the rich amalgamation of values she was heir to in Waukegan.

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