I've been enchanted with books from my earliest days and writing stories since second grade. My writing took a turn from animal lore when I discovered Sherlock Holmes in seventh grade. Many fine practitioners of detective and other fiction influenced me over the years. Perhaps the biggest single influence was my long-standing love affair with newspapers. I worked for professional papers in Chicago since my late teen years. Pursuing a doctorate in African history and a career in the United States Foreign Service reinforced my interest in people, places, and writing. To date, I've published over sixty fan fiction stories since 2012. You can learn more in this interview HERE.
Readers often ask me what sparks the ideas for my mystery fiction. The origins of the Ross Agency lie in a question I asked myself: who helps the little guy? In answer, I created this mystery series. The Ross Agency provides fix-it services to people in their hard-scrabble neighborhood. The three private investigators look into puzzles, losses, disputes, and tensions that fall below the radar of the police. Each book in the series focuses on solving a murder (or two) while delving further into the tangle of relationships that bind the detectives, their friends, and neighbors. Bringing murderers to justice is the driver of each story. But the ultimate puzzle in this series is unwrapping the mystery of private eye SJ Rook himself. To learn more about the Ross Agency, check out this interview I conducted with Rook.
I enjoy hearing from readers. Visit my web site, "Neighborhood Noir,' at www.deliapitts.com. Follow me on Instagram at deliapitts50.
Right now I am working on a fourth novel called Pauper and Prince in Harlem. To give you a special preview of this new story, I've included the first chapter at the end of eBook and print versions of Black and Blue in Harlem. I hope you enjoy this sneak peek at the story I'm working on right now.
When Shelba Rook’s home burns down, he realizes he has nothing left. What’s a jobless, homeless private detective to do? He’s feeling more than a little lost.
Shelba Rook’s “home” was in fact a room in a Harlem brothel. Not only does the catastrophic fire at Auberge Rouge take the few items he could call his earthly possessions; it ends up killing an innocent woman.
As Rook struggles to find a job, his thoughts keep returning to the woman at the Auberge Rouge. Who was she? Did someone set the fire intending to kill her? As Rook ponders these mysteries, he stumbles on one of Harlem’s best-kept secrets—the Ross Agency.
The detective agency, run by the magnanimous Norment Ross and his far more practical daughter, Sabrina, takes tiny neighborhood cases the police are too busy to solve. They’re looking for a new agent, and Rook knows a job is a job. Rook may look down on the types of cases Norment and Brina take, but the two will prove to be invaluable allies as he searches for an arsonist and a murderer. From tiny cases to huge investigations, the Ross Agency is ready for anything!
Practice the Jealous Arts: Two Ross Agency Mysteries (Ross Agency Mystery series Book 2) $2.99
The private investigators at the Ross Agency in Harlem specialize in tracking down lost checks and missing relatives and solving other mundane mysteries. Murder isn’t normally on their plate, but when it is, they rise to the occasion.
Practice the Jealous Arts continues the adventures of private eyes S J Rook, Sabrina Ross, and her father Norment, who made their debuts in Lost and Found in Harlem. First, Rook is asked to help his NYPD buddy Archie Lin investigate the murder of an elderly math teacher at the prestigious Harlem Select School. Someone hated the mathematician enough to try to divide her head in two. Lin’s stumped and hopes Rook and the Rosses can find a motive in a tangled web of suspects that includes teachers, students, and parents.
After Rook cracks the first case, he accepts an out-of-town assignment with Sabrina. A celebrated artist has asked the agency to provide security on his farm. Caught up in the artist’s troubled, twisted family dynamic, Rook and Sabrina quickly discover rural life is long on drama and violence.
Welcome back to the Ross Agency. If you’ve got a mystery, they’ve got a solution— whether you approve or not.
Harlem is frigid the night Rook arrives home to find his own apartment building is a crime scene. With his pal NYPD Detective Archie Lin working the case, Rook joins the investigation into the death of his neighbor. Nomie George was a gentle, unassuming city bureaucrat, with few friends and no apparent enemies. Minding her own business, following government rules, and hoarding her skimpy paycheck were Nomie’s chief pleasures. But a frosty fifteen-story plunge ended her life. Could her lonely death be a suicide? Or might a brutal murderer be on the loose?
As winter nights pile up, Rook’s investigative leads turn as murky as black ice. Then he and Lin are stunned when another gruesome murder lands even closer to home: in the backyard of Rook’s own detective agency. His bosses, the father-daughter duo of Norment and Sabrina Ross, run a local fix-it service with Harlem as their beat. Ross Agency cases usually involve those neighborhood events or personal affairs where tensions run high and violence bubbles just under the surface. This quirky team of private eyes handles intimate matters and little mysteries the police consider beneath their interest or beyond their abilities.
Murder isn’t his beat, but the second death draws Rook even deeper into the investigation of Lin’s frozen cold case. With Archie distracted by a budding love affair, Rook’s romance with Sabrina Ross stumbles, as old habits cause new problems. Adding to his troubles are a wily gangster who’s greedy for power, a storefront preacher digging for earthly rewards, and a baffled roommate who knows too much… and too little. Rook races against time to solve this case before the ruthless killer strikes again. Must he compromise his friendships to protect a neighbor? Will he sacrifice his own happiness to catch a serial murderer? Or will the mountain of blues rising around Rook bring disaster to everyone he knows?
In this third novel in the exciting character-driven mystery series, Rook learns the hard way that in Harlem, security is a sometime thing. One minute you’re cruising, with a roof over your head, a warm drink in your hand, and the woman of your dreams beside you. But in a single deadly twist, tragedy can strike: your luck is frozen and your fate is on ice. Slip up in Harlem and you could find yourself black and blue all over again.