The Detectives who Kill: Black Female Detectives in the works of Oyinkan Braithwaite and Nnedi Okorafor

Shun Man Emily Chow-Quesada*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


    This article examines the new Black female detectives in selected works of Oyinkan Braithwaite and Nnedi Okorafor. The detectives Braithwaite and Okorafor portray deviate from the traditional hard-boiled and soft-boiled detective archetypes as well as those of Black crime fiction. Rather, they are detectives who kill to solve the mysteries. In Braithwaite’s My Sister, the Serial Killer (2018), Korede has a sister who has killed all of her boyfriends. Korede becomes a culprit to protect her own lover while unfolds gender violence that moulds her sister into a killer. Okorafor’s Remote Control (2021) features a young girl, Sankofa, who has lost her family and memory but gains the power to kill with her consciousness after a mysterious accident that has to do with American agents. To solve the mystery of the deaths of her family and memory loss that allude to neo-colonialism, Sankofa becomes the fatal detective who saves and kills. As such, this article argues that both Braithwaite and Okorafor write towards a new Black female detective archetype who empowers herself by all means. They are hybrids of the damsel in distress and the femme fatale who are at times in danger but can save themselves and even pose threats to others. To do so, I examine the dynamic and tension embedded in the duality of this archetype of being both the killer and the detective to demonstrate how this emerging genre intertwines the gender and socio-political discourses of 21st-century Black female writers.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalClues: A Journal of Detection
    Publication statusAccepted/In press - 5 Jun 2023

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Arts and Humanities(all)


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