Eleanor Taylor Bland
Eleanor Taylor Bland (December 31, 1944 – June 2, 2010) was an African-American writer of crime fiction. She was the creator of Lincoln Prairie, Illinois (based on Waukegan, Illinois) police detective Marti McAllister.
Eleanor Taylor Bland was born in Boston, Massachusetts. But after marrying at the age of 14, she moved to the Naval Station Great Lakes in North Chicago, Illinois, with her husband, Walter Bland, who was serving in the US Navy. Taylor was her father's name, not her maiden name. She and her husband remained together for 31 years, before parting. Although she was diagnosed with Gardner's syndrome in the 1970s and given a short time to live, she managed to overcome the disease. In later years, however, she fought several bouts with cancer. Bland received a BA from the University of Southern Illinois in 1981, and from 1981 to 1999 worked as an accountant. She had two children and several grandchildren, and resided in Waukegan, Illinois, during the later years of her life.
Bland's first novel, Dead Time (1992), introduced her sleuth, African-American police detective Marti MacAlister, recently transferred from Chicago to the small town of Lincoln Prairie, Illinois. However, her second book, Slow Burn, was actually the first one written but no publisher wanted it.
Several novels featuring Marti MacAlister followed. Marti works in collaboration with a male partner, Polish American Vik Jessenovik, and their contrasting styles have been described as city-reared, streetwise, spunky and intuitive and Baptist (Marti) versus meticulous and small-town-minded Roman Catholic (Vik). Family and community life, and social issues, are also strong elements in the novels.
In a survey of women detectives in crime fiction, Maureen Reddy points out that almost all African American women writers create detectives who have children and a family life. Bland herself once commented that "the most significant contribution that we have made, collectively, to mystery fiction is the development of the extended family; the permanence of spouses and significant others, most of whom don't die in the first three chapters; children who are complex, wanted and loved; and even pets."
- Dead Time (1992)
- Slow Burn (1993)
- Gone Quiet (1994)
- Done Wrong (1995)
- Keep Still (1996)
- See No Evil (1998)
- Tell No Tales (1999)
- Scream in Silence (2000)
- Whispers in the Dark (2001)
- Windy City Dying (2002)
- Fatal Remains (2003)
- A Cold and Silent Dying (2004)
- A Dark and Deadly Deception (2005)
- Suddenly a Stranger (2007)
- Shades of Black: Crime and Mystery Stories by African American Authors (2004)
- Drew, Bernard A. (2007). 100 Most Popular African American Authors: Biographical Sketches and Bibliographies. Westport, Conn., Libraries Unlimited.
- O’Donnell, Maureen. “Writer Set Mysteries in Waukegan.” Chicago Sun-Times, June 8, 2010.
- Brown, Dale (2008). "Eleanor Taylor Bland: Busy Lady" in Conversations with American Writers: The Doubt, the Faith, the In-Between. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. P. 4.
- Lisinski, Jeanne M. "Eleanor Taylor Bland" Biography at Answers.com
- Reddy, Maureen (2007). "Women Detectives" in The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction (Cambridge Companions to Literature) by Martin Priestman. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, Mass.
- Review of Shades of Black in Publishers Weekly, January 19, 2004; quoted in Drewe (2007).