Anthony, Sterling 1949-
ANTHONY, Sterling 1949-
Home—Detroit, MI. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Ballantine Books, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
Cookie Cutter (crime novel), Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Sterling Anthony's debut novel, Cookie Cutter, is not only a murder mystery but also a psychological exploration of the problems many African Americans face in resolving their personal self-identification issues. Anthony profiles two characters: Eugene Shaw, a mulatto artist whose white appearance and trouble assimilating into the mostly black Detroit community he grew up in has severe psychological consequences, and Mary Cunningham, a black detective who has shot three suspects in the line of duty and who is facing her own problems. These involve her feelings of guilt for surviving the 1967 race riots that killed her brother, a troubled marriage, and chauvinism at the police station. Cunningham is called up to solve a series of murders in which several locally prominent African Americans have been stabbed to death. In each of their hands, the killer leaves an Oreo cookie, a symbol of the murderer's contempt for people he feels are too "white" on the inside and have betrayed their black heritage. The series of murders is further complicated by the fact that the mayor is campaigning for reelection and wants to keep the case quiet.
Sometimes comparing Anthony's debut to the work of author Walter Mosley, critics appreciated some of the good points about Cookie Cutter while also noting its flaws. Library Journal contributor Rebecca House Stankowski, for example, complained that the identity of the murderer "is rather clumsily revealed, but his motivation is left mostly unexplained." On the other hand, Larry Muhammad, reviewing the novel for USA Today, said the story provides "an artful twist to the tragic half-breed familiar in black literature." And in a Publishers Weekly review, Sybil S. Steinberg wrote that Cunningham is "a well-rounded character" and that the author "makes some perceptive comments about the complex dilemmas facing black Americans."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Library Journal, October 15, 1999, Rebecca House Stankowski, review of Cookie Cutter, p. 103; November 1, 1999, Ann Burns, review of Cookie Cutter, p. 102.
Publishers Weekly, October 4, 1999, Sybil S. Steinberg, review of Cookie Cutter, p. 63.
USA Today, January 6, 2000, Larry Muhammad, "Duplicity, Originality and Questions of Race Leaven 'Cookie Cutter,'" section D, p. 6.*