The Conjure-Man Dies

A Mystery Tale of Dark Harlem
Rudolph Fisher
The first known mystery written by an African-American, set in 1930s Harlem


Originally published in 1932, The Conjure-Man Dies is the first known mystery novel written by an African-American. Rudolph Fisher, one of the principal writers of the Harlem Renaissance, weaves an intricate story of a native African king, who, after receiving a degree from Harvard University, settles into Harlem in the 1930s. He becomes a "conjure-man," a fortune-teller, a mysterious figure who remains shrouded in darkness while his clients sit directly across from him, singly bathed in light. It is in this configuration that one of these seekers os the revelation of fate discovers he is speaking to a dead man. Thus a complex mystery begins, involving suspects and characters who are vividly and richly portrayed, and who dramatically illuminate for the reader a time, a place, and a people that have been sadly neglected in American literature.

Rudolph Fisher, physician and writer, was the author of several detective novels and short stories. Dr. Fisher, who lived most of his life in Harlem and in Jamaica, Long Island, died at the age of 37 in 1934.

Product Details

  • 5.25 x 8.
  • 320pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1992
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06492-2

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  • $18.95 U.S.