The debut author’s “The Strivers’ Row Spy” blends real figures such as J. Edgar Hoover, Marcus Garvey, and W.E.B. Du Bois, and fictional characters such as Sidney Temple—one of the FBI’s first African-American agents—into a colorful, riveting historical spy story set in 1920s Harlem. Overstreet, an educator and former Fullerton College assistant basketball coach, recommends these thrillers.
THE BIG CLOCK
Anytime we become attached to a charming, handsome character who later finds himself falling deeply into some self-made trap, our only recourse is to root for him to navigate his way out. Such is the case in one of my favorites, “The Big Clock,” a noir from 1946. Fearing masterfully keeps his main character on a tightrope throughout.
DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS
Sidney Temple, my protagonist, is not an FBI agent by training, and in “Devil in a Blue Dress,” the classic character Easy Rawlins wasn’t schooled as a private investigator. Yet both men are targeted because they are African-Americans who can infiltrate places that the powerful white men who hire them cannot.
THE QUIET AMERICAN
“The Quiet American” is a beauty. It parallels my novel in that both involve spies who’ve been tasked to stop the spread of communism, but they’re conflicted about having to lie to the women they love. We wonder if they’ll ultimately reveal their secret identities to their lovers and risk jeopardizing their missions.