View Full Version : Murder mystery/thriller/cop books with "minority" characters

01-01-2012, 08:52 PM
So... I don't usually read murder mysteries or crime fiction, but I signed on to read a stack of them this month. Before this, the only sort of related books I'd read were set in the late 1800s and Baker Street, so it was a totally new experience for me.

Anyway, in EVERY SINGLE one of them I've read so far in which the MC is a cop or ex-cop (about 7 so far), his or her current or previous partner is explicitly non-white - but their minorityness has nothing to do with the plot. Systematically, these 10-ish different authors all felt the need to have the secondary partner-character be black, Mexican, Indian, Native American, Chinese... even though it would come to be irrelevant to the plot later. No sub-plots of racism or anything. But I can't shake the feeling it's tokenism instead.

Is this really typical in this genre that is such a mystery to me?

01-01-2012, 09:08 PM
Isn't "minority sidekick" something you see in all genres?

But it could be because of how many "buddy cop" movies have a mixed race pairing. The difference, obviously, is that the buddy cop film presents them both as protagonists (equal screen time, equal amount of line, equal amount of authority) while books tend to make them secondary characters.

01-01-2012, 09:28 PM
Hm, good point(s). It didn't immediately strike me as the "minority sidekick" routine but now that you say that, could be.

In one of the books, the MC being Colombian played a huge role in the story, since he deals with racism as part of his character dev throughout the novel. His partner is a black woman and nothing racist happens to her. They don't even discuss having similar experiences or anything, as partners/friends. But in that one it did seem way less token-y and more "In real life not everyone is white."

I suggest: more acrobat circus sidekicks like in Batman

01-02-2012, 06:12 AM
I don't see this as mystery specific. Tropes like the minority best friend or sidekick pop up everywhere. It's a general issue with reading books at random (or a selection not based on characters/themes, such as all the releases in March).

In a genre where you're choosing what to read, you're only going to read about white middle-class men and their minority sidekicks if you're picking them off the shelf. If it bothers you, chances are you're avoiding them.

01-03-2012, 07:58 PM
Exceptions within the genre do exist. Some of them pretty high profile. Alex Cross and Lincoln Rhyme come to mind.

02-01-2012, 10:00 AM
Richard Morgan for the Takeshi Kovacs trilogy might interest you as well. His main male character is Japanese-Slavic but because of the story's world-building is actually never one single external race (I can't say much more because it's a spoiler as to how the story plays out). I found it interesting. The first book is "Altered Carbon" and is a cyber-noir detective thriller, if I had to say it that way.