Valerie Wilson Wesley wrote her first mystery,
When Death Comes Stealing, in 1994. The book introduced readers to Tamara Hayle,
a wise and witty African American single mom and ex-cop, who makes her living as
a private investigator in Newark, New Jersey. When Death Comes Stealing was
nominated for the Shamus Award by the Private Eye Writers of America as Best
First Private Eye Novel. Tamara has since appeared in several other mysteries. See a list below.
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: One World/Ballantine (January 29, 2008)
Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
Valerie Wilson Wesley’s private investigator, Tamara Hayle, whom the
Houston Chronicle calls “smart, sexy, tough but tender,” has earned
enthusiastic acclaim from reviewers and readers alike. Now Newark, New
Jersey’s savviest detective confronts the one case she never saw
coming–and discovers how ties that bind can easily become a noose.
Tamara Hayle can’t believe that her life is this good. New York’s most
powerful businessman wants her to work for him, her new lover seems
caring and supportive, and her son, Jamal, is thriving. But as Tamara
sardonically observes, “When things stir that easy, there’s always
something lumpy at the bottom of the pot.”
Enter Lilah Love, an old acquaintance who begs Tamara to find her
missing child. Tamara, however, is wary of Lilah, who attracts mayhem
and murder like an alley cat attracts fleas. Next up is Basil Dupre,
Tamara’s outlaw ex-lover, who always brings passion–and chaos–when he
strolls into Tamara’s life. Suddenly Tamara’s safe world isn’t so
secure, especially when Jamal witnesses a brutal murder and becomes the
As the body count rises, Tamara and Jamal will follow a long-forgotten
secret into a terrifying confrontation with love gone bad, trust turned
lethal, and a past hungry to claim more lives.
ISBN: 0345468066 Format: Hardcover, 240pp Pub. Date: September 28, 2004 Publisher: One World
Valerie Wilson Wesley's Tamara Hayle mystery series featuring Newark, New
Jersey's number one private investigator are loved for their smart, sexy
protagonist who 'has a way with a wisecrack that is positively lethal'
(Washington Post). Now in Dying in the Dark, Hayle is entrenched in a sinister
investigation that will demand her best detective work yet.
Tamara Hayle's past has come back to haunt her'literally. She's been plagued by
terrifying dreams about Celia Jones, an old friend whose walk on the wild side
led her to a horrible death. Celia's teenage son, Cecil, begs Tamara to find his
mother's killer . . . only to end up dead himself, stabbed through the heart.
The search for Celia and her son's killer pulls Tamara deep into her friend's
troubled love life, where everyone adored her but somebody held a murderous
grudge. There's her bullying thug of an ex-husband; a handsome ex-lover who woos
Tamara with charm and lies; and an angry, jealous woman who claims that Celia
broke her heart. And those were just the obvious people with axes to grind.
Despite her better judgment and the admonitions of the police department, Tamara
refuses to back away from the mystery surrounding her old friend's death and the
tragedy that met her son. All clues lead to the past Tamara shared with Celia
Jones, and Tamara fears that that past will threaten her own son. But she
uncovers more than she bargained for'and unearths secrets someone would kill to
keep in the shadows.
Author: Valerie Wilson Wesley Publisher: Avon Books Date Published: June 1995 Format: Mass Market Paperbound
First in the series
Former policewoman Tamara Hayle is a single mother trying
to raise her son while carving out a new career as a private investigator in the urban
jungle. Her ex-husband shows up in serious trouble--someone is killing his sons,
one-by-one. The police believe the deaths are accidental. With her own son's life in
jeopardy, Tamara investigates before the killer strikes again.
Author: Valerie Wilson Wesley Publisher: Avon Books Date Published: May 1996 Format: Mass Market Paperbound
Tamara Hayle's sleuthing skills are put to the ultimate
test when her newest, very well-heeled client turns up dead only hours after he hires her.
Lincoln Storey, one of the richest, rudest black men in the state of New Jersey, is
Tamara's latest client - until he drops dead at his own ritzy fund-raiser the very night
he's put Tamara on retainer. When Wyvetta Green's baby sister is charged with the crime,
Wyvetta hires Tamara, her friend and upstairs neighbor, to find out who really did it. The
problem is that everyone, including baby sister, had a motive, from Storey's not-so-loving
wife, to his two jealous mistresses, to his angry stepdaughter, to his resentful partner,
to Tamara's ambitious ex-lover - each of whom is better off with Lincoln Storey dead.
Author: Valerie Wilson Wesley Publisher: Avon Books Date Published: May 1997 Format: Mass Market Paperbound
Tamara Hayle is after some much-needed R&R down in
sunny Kingston, Jamaica, when she is befriended by a chatty fellow tourist from Jersey.
Against her better judgment, Tamara joins her new friend, Lilah Love and Lilah's two male
traveling companions for a night on the town; the result is murder. Tamara suspects Lilah,
although that lead eventually turns very cold. More murder, mayhem, and a tryst with a man
from her past all put Tamara in the path of a killer, until she finally finds the spot
where evil sleeps.
Author: Valerie Wilson Wesley Publisher: Avon Books Date Published: August 1998 Format: Mass Market Paperbound
When Newark hoodlum Shawn Raymond is killed, his mother,
Bessie, hard-earned money in hand, begs Tamara to look into the unsolved murder. According
to Bessie, the cops just didn't give a damn, but Tamara is enough of a realist to know the
sad truth that gangsters usually end up getting what they deserve. Yet she can also
remember a time when Shawn Raymond was an innocent boy, loved and mentored by her dead
brother, Johnny. She knows that the void left by Johnny's suicide may have contributed to
the bad choices Shawn made. Tied to the Raymonds by grief and memory, Tamara finally
agrees to take Shawn Raymond's case. But Tamara finds that the path to the killer leads
not only through the city's mean streets and threatened middle class but into her personal
life as well, in a terrible, shattering way. More blood will be spilled before Tamara
learns her bitter lesson that when it comes to murder and the evil in people's hearts,
there truly is no hiding place.
Publisher: The Putnam Publishing Group
Pub. Date: June 2000
Tamara Hayle goes undercover in the casinos of
Atlantic City to track a runaway teen in this gripping new mystery.
Hailed as one of the best ethnic and female sleuthing mystery series, Valerie
Wilson Wesley's Tamara Hayle novels are consistent standouts. "She keeps
peeling back layers and layers with a skill and determination that recall Ross
MacDonald," says Kirkus Reviews. Now, in her sixth Hayle mystery,
Wesley mines the intersection of African-American rich and poor caught in the
crossroads of Atlantic City.
Darnella Desmond, stepdaughter to wealthy Foster Desmond, leaves her plush home
for the wilds of Atlantic City, eschewing all contact with her family. When
Darnella's last-known roommate is murdered, apparently by a serial killer
stalking Atlantic City's vulnerable runaway population, Darnella's mother hires
Tamara Hayle to track her daughter down.
As her investigation brings her closer to Darnella, Tamara discovers that at the
heart of the young woman's disappearance lie two generations' worth of familial
perversity--and a legacy of betrayal that threatens to undo the Desmond family.
Rich in the vices and delights of Atlantic City, freighted with characters whose
passions too often lead to murder, The Devil Riding finds Valerie Wilson
Wesley at her tempting best.