Nekesa Afia

Books: Mystery | Historical | Queer

Harlem Renaissance Mystery: Dead Dead Girls (2021)

Harlem Renaissance Mystery

Dead Dead Girls (2021)

Dead Dead GirlsSet in Harlem, NYC in 1926

Louise Lloyd became famous as a teenager, when she escaped a man who had kidnapped her and two other girls–girls who would have been ignored because they were Black and in Harlem.

Ten years later, someone is killing young women, and Louis is drawn unwillingly into the case.

First, the story is blunt in the issues that Louise and her friends would have dealt with at the time. (And, to be honest, even today.)

"I can make your charges go away, but you have to do something for me."

Louise's heart leapt in her throat. She scanned the little room. She knew he could overpower her if he tried. He was twice her size, tall and broad. He would win in a fight. He could do anything to her and she wouldn't be able to stop him. No one would believe her. Not again.

I am still uncertain about my rating of this book. I had a very hard time putting it down, but I wasn't enamored of the writing style–mostly the leaps in time and place, and that Louis makes in her thought processes.

This wasn't who she wanted to be. Someone who snuck around, broke into places, snooped through other people's things. But now that she had become this person, she found it rather exhilarating.

I had to reread this bit a couple times, because it was so abrupt that Louis decided she was a detective.

This wasn't bad per se, it just tended to throw me out of the story.

I also wasn't sure if we were supposed to know who the killer was or not–and I wasn't quite sure why and why Louise made up her mind as to who the killer was.

And I really didn't understand the connection between the killings in 1926 and the kidnappings in 1916. Were there killings in 1916? If so, why was there a ten year pause? If not, what prompted the kidnappings and then killings in 1926? Yes, Louis wouldn't necessarily have learned these things, but I found them frustrating.

Publisher: Berkley

November 2021 | Rating: 7/10