Not sure how to best approach an article by a white lady about black detective novels that contains the sentences below, but I did learn some stuff.
In 1971, private detective John Shaft was the ultimate in cool black heroes. Played by Richard Roundtree on the big screen, Shaft blasted the baddies to a funky Isaac Hayes score and launched a host of blaxploitation movies that used the political unrest of the day as background to thrills, chills and big Afros.
I always assumed the novel Shaft, on which the film was based, must have been written by a soul brother. But the author was Ernest Tidyman, a white journalist and screenwriter seeking an income from pulp fiction. The story goes he made up the name of his detective hero in the publisher’s office when he looked out the window and saw a ‘‘Fire Shaft Way’’ sign.