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The Books of Luke Cage

posted by: October 4, 2016 - 7:00am

Cover art for Little GreenIn the homogenous world of superhero film and television, everyone expected Netflix’s Luke Cage to be exceptional, but no one could have predicted the pure unadulterated joy that is Luke’s barbershop book club discussions with Pop. Luke is the well-read hero we deserve.

 

In the comics, Luke has been a leader of the Avengers, Heroes for Hire and even married Jessica Jones, but what he hasn’t been for 30 plus years is a solo act. So to craft a show around Luke that doesn’t involve Spider-Man, Iron Fist or Jessica Jones dropping by, the creators took inspiration from the world of detective fiction. Here are some of the many books and authors referenced in the new Netflix series.

 

“Donald Goines was a street poet."

 

Pop’s favorite detective hero is Donald Goines’ character Kenyatta, “the best black hero this side of Shaft” who fights to rid the streets of drug dealers and racist cops. Criminal Partners is the first book in the series.

 

“So you’re saying Kenyatta is better than Easy Rawlins?”

 

Easy Rawlins is the humble Vietnam vet who prefers to keep a low profile and get paid under the table while solving crimes in his community. He’s the best detective novel hero period, and I’m proud to claim him as a fellow Houstonian. Little Green by Walter Mosley is the book Luke is seen reading in episode two.

 

“George Pelecanos? Boom.”

 

Pelecanos was a writer for The Wire, a show that Luke Cage shares more than a few similarities (and actors) with. Right as Rain is the first book in his Derek Strange and Terry Quinn detective series, following two detectives fighting systemic racism in the police force.

 

Elsewhere, Chester Himes, Harry Bosch and Dennis Lehane get shout outs. Which books did you spot? Let us know in the comments.


 
 

Revised: February 1, 2017