Book Review — Dead Dead Girls By Nekesa Afia

  • Genre: Fiction, Murder Mystery, Women Sleuths
  • Published by: Berkley Books
  • Publish date: June 01, 2021
  • Number of pages: 336 pages
  • Author’s website:
  • Support local! Buy the book on BookShop!

Harlem, 1926. Young Black girls like Louise Lloyd are ending up dead.

Following a harrowing kidnapping ordeal when she was in her teens, Louise is doing everything she can to maintain a normal life. She’s succeeding, too. She spends her days working at Maggie’s Café and her nights at the Zodiac, Manhattan’s hottest speakeasy. Louise’s friends might say she’s running from her past and the notoriety that still stalks her, but don’t tell her that.

When a girl turns up dead in front of the café, Louise is forced to confront something she’s been trying to ignore–several local Black girls have been murdered over the past few weeks. After an altercation with a local police officer gets her arrested, Louise is given an ultimatum: She can either help solve the case or let a judge make an example of her.

Louise has no choice but to take the case and soon finds herself toe-to-toe with a murderous mastermind. She’ll have to tackle her own fears and the prejudices of New York City society if she wants to catch a killer and save her own life in the process.

Synopsis from

Rating: 4/5

I love the Harlem Renaissance and reading anything about it– both fiction and non-fiction! In line with the time period, this mystery reads like a classic detective noir with a little Gatsby. The characters aren’t perfect and there’s a lot of shady things going on. You have a little bit of anti-hero-ness going on with several characters as well. Additionally, you have a main character who is independent and queer.

The book opens with a young Louise, escaping from being abducted and saving the other girls abducted with her. This gives her the label of “Harlem’s Hero”– a past she has tried to shed and this label. However, her life of partying in speakeasies and dancing the night away is disrupted when young Black girls begin showing up dead near the place she works and she is recruited to help solve the cases to avoid jail time.

It’s a puzzling mystery to solve that has her recalling her past, working with enemies, and putting those she loves at risk. It gets slow at parts and wasn’t too excited or surprised by the ending, but I am definitely interested in seeing how this series continues. A final note, that this cover is gorgeous!

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to know!

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