Howard Owen’s Willie Black mystery series takes place in Richmond, Virginia. Willie is the night cops reporter for a struggling newspaper in an industry on life support. In the eight installments so far, Willie’s been shot a couple of times, has drunk his weight twice-over in bourbon and gotten married for the fourth time. He’s also “helped” the city police get to the bottom of quite a few crimes despite the cops’ often-expressed desire that he keep his “nosy ass” out of their business. With the help and hindrance of a cast that includes his dope-addled mom Peggy, the peripatetic Awesome Dude, Big Boy Sunday, Jumpin’ Jimmy Deacon and a host of characters from his Oregon Hill boyhood and the newspaper, Willie Black is on the job. The New York Times reviewer said of him, “If anyone is watching out for the forgotten citizens of Richmond, it’s Willie, who grew up there and speaks the local language. A crisp and colorful urban idiom we can’t wait to hear again.”
Howard Owen has written 10 literary novels in addition to the eight Willie Black mysteries. He and Willie became acquainted when Owen was asked to write a short story for the Richmond Noir collection in 2010. Willie seemed too good a character to leave behind after just one story, so Owen wrote Oregon Hill in 2012 and has turned out at least one Willie Black mystery a year since then. Oregon Hill, by the way, won the Dashiell Hammett Prize for best crime literature in North America.