When the body of N’Gana Frimbo, the African conjure-man, is discovered in his consultation room, Perry Dart, one of Harlem’s ten Black police detectives, is called in to investigate. Together with Dr Archer, a physician from across the street, Dart is determined to solve the baffling mystery, helped and hindered by Bubber Brown and Jinx Jenkins, local boys keen to clear themselves of suspicion of murder and undertake their own investigations.
The Conjure-Man Dies was the very first detective novel written by an African-American. It has a gripping plot and vividly drawn characters, Fisher’s witty novel is a remarkable time capsule of one of the most exciting eras in the history of Black fiction. Fisher was a distinguished doctor and accomplished musician and dramatist. He died in 1934 aged only 37.
This crime classic is introduced Stanley Ellin, and includes Rudolph Fisher’s last published story, ‘John Archer’s Nose’, in which Perry Dart and Dr Archer return to solve the case of a young man murdered in his own bed.
HarperCollins, 2021 (1932)