Tulsa-Based Author Jennifer Latham Presents "Scarlett Undercover," a Novel for YA Readers

May 16, 2015

On this edition of ST, we speak with Jennifer Latham, a Tulsa-based author whose debut novel is coming out next week: "Scarlett Undercover" is a noir-flavored, modern-day YA mystery with a 16-year-old Muslim American heroine who runs her own detective agency. Book Smart Tulsa will present a free-to-the-public Launch Party for this book next week, on Wednesday the 20th at 7pm, at the University of Tulsa's Zarrow Center for Art and Education in the Brady Arts District (in downtown Tulsa). Latham tells us all about this book on today's program -- why she wanted to write it, how she got started on it, where she did her research while composing and plotting it, and so forth. And further, per this starred review of "Scarlett Undercover" from Kirkus: "A 16-year-old gumshoe's new case reveals ancient -- perhaps magical -- family secrets.... Intrepid sleuth Scarlett has tested out of the last years of high school, founding a detective agency instead of going to college. Ever since the deaths of her Egyptian father and Sudanese mother, Scarlett's insisted on taking care of herself. Her older sister, a doctor, is too busy to spend much time at home, so Scarlett is proudly independent. When she takes a case from a frightened 9-year-old, Scarlett discovers a terrifying conspiracy that's endangered her own family for generations. As she investigates clues pointing to an ancient myth that the children of King Solomon are at war with the descendants of the jinn, she stumbles upon a cult of true believers. Scarlett is supported by a crew of irregulars that would make any private eye proud: a loving sister; a handsome Jewish best friend who's becoming something more; and solicitous neighbors from bakers to cops. Meanwhile, she must come to terms with her feelings about her sister, her memories of her parents, and her unobservant relationship with Islam. With some secrets left unresolved, dare we hope this is not the last mystery Scarlett will solve? This whip-smart, determined, black Muslim heroine brings a fresh hard-boiled tone to the field of teen mysteries." Also on today's show, our commentator Janet Pearson is thinking about certain crazy-sounding slang terms that many of us learned from our parents, once upon a time.