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Paula L. Woods Books In Order

Publication Order of Charlotte Justice Books

Inner City Blues (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Stormy Weather (2001) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dirty Laundry (2003) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Strange Bedfellows (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Paula L. Woods is an African-American author of mystery and thriller books popularly known for her Charlotte Justice which has won her several accolades. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and International Association of Crime. As a Los Angeles native, her lifelong love of books saw a tremendous increase in her personal library to over 1000 books. The first book in her Charlotte Justice series won a Macavity Awards in the best first mystery book category. The series features Charlotte Justice working as a policewoman for the Los Angeles police department.

Miss Woods has also edited and co-edited anthologies for African American crime and literature, respectively.

Inner City Blues

First published in 1999, Paula L. Woods’s series debut novel Inner City Blues won the Macavity award a year later for the best debut mystery book. The novel was also named the best debut novel by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. The novel is set during the 1992 Los Angeles riots and introduces us to Charlotte Justice investigating the death of Cinque Lewis who years earlier had killed her husband and child.

Being a black woman in the American community let alone in the police department was met with a lot of racist comments. Detective Charlotte was a black woman in a very white and male-dominated career. The story opens up exactly 48 hours into the famous L.A riots, and we meet her and her fellow officers exhausted. She saves a black doctor named Lance Mitchell from a possible lethal beating from some white cops and immediately discovers the body of the radical Lewis, a thug who at one point had killed her family. Was Cinque death a random shooting or was the black doctor responsible? What could have made Lewis to sneak back into the city she had fled from years before? Charlotte embarks on a journey to find the truth behind Lewis death, and she’s certain that her investigations will set her at loggerheads with the LAPD hierarchy, send her deep into a complex web of criminal gangs, politics and head on with Mitchell’s partner, her former lover Dr. Aubrey Scott.

Paula L. Woods has created a strong but vulnerable protagonist for the reader to draw comparisons to other classic figures such as Kinsley Milhone, and Easy Rawlins. Inner City Blues offers a great deal of good mystery. Charlotte joins the with other prolific African American lead characters such as Blance White, Alex Powell, Tamara Hayle, and Star Duvall. Justice clan is a true family, they are all card-carrying members, and they include; brother Perris, a former Los Angeles detective, turned a criminal defense attorney; his wife Louis; Charlotte’s dad, a chemist who makes fortune selling cosmetic products for black women and her mom, a woman of the upper-class family.

Additionally, there are also other equally fascinating and well developed secondary characters. For example, there is Charlotte’s supervisor. With his Jewish father/black mother, he has no single idea what or who he is, and he’s so uncomfortable around the blacks such that it earns him a nickname- the incognegro. Unfortunately, the man is making an exception in Miss Justice case and making Clarence look like a choir boy. Then there is Aubrey Scott, a handsome doctor who Charlotte has known all her life. She is madly in love with him such that she can’t figure out anything straight, which confidently won’t turn into a bad move.

Dirty Laundry

In her third installment in Charlotte Justice series, Paula Woods created an out of this world blend of suspense, mystery and resolute critique of urban and multiracial America featuring homicide detective Charlotte Justice. This third series novel is sizzling with intrigue, politics, murder, families, mystery, and betrayal in Los Angeles where everyone has their motive and is a suspect.

For Charlotte and her team of investigators, the case kicks off when a woman’s body is discovered in Los Angeles Koreatown district were a series of murders and robberies have put the besieged businessmen on edge. Now the scene of a young successful Korean woman found battered and bound in a street is stirring passions, fear, and city politics. Just hours after Vicki Park’s murder, Charlotte must deal with an intricate crime scene and a troubling community hostility towards the police officers.

Surprisingly enough, Vicki, same as Charlotte Justice lived and worked in two distinct worlds; the political world where she worked as a special assistant to a cute media-wit Mike Santos who is vying to become Los Angeles mayor and her united Korean community. With over twenty candidates vying to replace the long-serving African American mayor, the political race is fast shaping up like a puzzle, full of innuendo and dirty tricks. Could Vicki’s murder be connected to the campaign or does the answer to her death lie deep down in the close-knit community that nurtured her? While Charlotte digs deeper for answers, she is also forced to navigate the dangers of life in the police department which embroils her personal life, especially her budding relationship with Aubrey Scott. Justifying that her relentless hunt for Vicki’s murderer to be part of her investigative duty, Miss Justice must also face the possibility that her motivation for investigation could also be to ease the pain she feels for losing her husband and daughter years ago.

Dirty Laundry first published in 2003 is set in 1993 during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles during a racially charged era. It’s a compelling story about families and how secrets so strong are kept hidden within the family hierarchy which also shows differences in social class, the political class and gender gap that existed in the last 20th century. This is a fast-paced story that builds to a strong and powerful climax featuring one of the prominent female leading characters in detective fiction today. It is a book that gives a fascinating glimpse of Los Angeles from the dark alleys of Koreatown to the utterly powerful hallways of City Hall.

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