The first draft of Michael Dabney’s new novel “An Untidy Affair” was completed in 2009. After years of trying to find a publisher, his luck changed in March 2020 when Per Bastet Publications agreed to publish his first full-length novel.
Dabney, 70, has published several short stories, but was inspired by the annual National Novel Writing Month to try his hand at longform writing. In September 2009, Dabney completed the first draft of his detective novel in just 18 days.
Set in the backdrop of Philadelphia in the 1980s, “An Untidy Affair” follows Detective David Blaise who gets two seemingly unrelated cases on the same day. As his investigations deepen, Blaise realizes he’s in danger.
For his first novel, Dabney has gotten no shortage of positive reviews. The Philadelphia Tribune — the nation’s oldest Black newspaper — said the novel “takes readers on a real emotional roller coaster with twists and unusually surprising turns,” and best-selling author Susan Furlong called it a “gripping mystery.”
Dabney said he pulled inspiration from some of his favorite authors, including John le Carre and Walter Mosley, as well as from a city he used to call home.
“I was living and working as a reporter in Philadelphia in the mid ‘80s, so I didn’t have to research much to paint a picture of the city,” Dabney said. “The challenge for me was, because I’m a former journalist who always wrote in third person, it was challenging for me to write in first person and get into [Blaise’s] mind.”
At 1 p.m. Aug. 7, Dabney will sign copies of his novel at the Ujamaa Bookstore, 2424 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St.
Ujamaa, a Black-owned bookstore promoting Black literature, opened June 19.