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The start of an exciting new historical mystery series set in 1920s Harlem featuring Louise Lloyd, a young black woman caught up in a series of murders way too close to home... 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. S The start of an exciting new historical mystery series set in 1920s Harlem featuring Louise Lloyd, a young black woman caught up in a series of murders way too close to home... 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.


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The start of an exciting new historical mystery series set in 1920s Harlem featuring Louise Lloyd, a young black woman caught up in a series of murders way too close to home... 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. S The start of an exciting new historical mystery series set in 1920s Harlem featuring Louise Lloyd, a young black woman caught up in a series of murders way too close to home... 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.

30 review for Dead Dead Girls

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Hooray! Look at this fantastic cover and tempting, mesmerizing atmosphere of 20’s Harlem: speakeasies, illegal booze, the beautiful women in shiny, gorgeous dresses dancing till the morning and dangerous killer out there to hunt the working black girls of the neighborhood! Aren’t you intrigued yet? I’m already sold! Louise Lloyd is hero of Harlem who fought against her kidnappers when she was only 15 and saved three other girls’ lives with her. She is adamant not to be a prey or a victim anymor Hooray! Look at this fantastic cover and tempting, mesmerizing atmosphere of 20’s Harlem: speakeasies, illegal booze, the beautiful women in shiny, gorgeous dresses dancing till the morning and dangerous killer out there to hunt the working black girls of the neighborhood! Aren’t you intrigued yet? I’m already sold! Louise Lloyd is hero of Harlem who fought against her kidnappers when she was only 15 and saved three other girls’ lives with her. She is adamant not to be a prey or a victim anymore at young age. She also resists the plans of her preacher, rigid, disciplined father who forces her to a marriage, leaving her house in early twenties to become a dancer but the competition was tough and as a young black girl it was more compelling to find your place in that ruthless world where being woman is already worthless and if you add the race to the equation, she is already doomed to fail. She plans to live in a group home temporarily, finding daytime job at a cafe as a waitress. But she falls in love with her roommate Rosa Maria. So she stops looking for another life, surrendering to her circumstances, hanging out at the Zodiac club at nighttime, drinking like a sponge, dancing till her feet bleed, smoking cigarettes like chimney as she continues her daytime job at Maggie’s coffee with less sleep and lack of energy. It’s some kind of self destructive life style she chose for her continues till she hits 26, tenth anniversary of her kidnapping. Her life suddenly changes as she finds dead black girl’s body who is only sixteen lies in front of her workplace and meets with officer Gilbert to testify. At the same night, she gets arrested as she tries to save a young girl from police officer’s assault. She slaps the guy, sitting at the jail to wait for how long she’ll be sentenced. But officer Gilbert offers her to work undercover for the police investigation to solve the dead girls’ case. She can befriend the girls and get more useful information from them. She’ll help or she’ll find herself at jail. She doesn’t have any chance to say no. She cooperates and find herself to catch a dangerous killer to reconcile the traumatic event she’s endured ten years ago. Overall: I loved Louise’s characterization from the beginning and I enjoyed the execution of the mystery. The twists are well developed and the ending was phenomenal. Only thing bothered me was choppy, abrupt chapter endings. I think they need a little editorial work but instead of that, I enjoyed my ride! It was epic historical thriller earned my four speakeasy, dancing till the dawn, intriguing, heart throbbing stars! Special thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for sharing this amazing digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mara

    There is some choppy or abrupt moments in the prose and pacing, but overall, this was a wonderfully surprising historical mystery. I was expecting something akin to Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, and while the set pieces bear some similarities, this was a wonderfully dark serial killer thriller set in 1920s Harlem. I loved seeing a different kind of protagonist than we normally see in these books, and I found this to be a very page turning, satisfying mystery CW: racism & hate crimes There is some choppy or abrupt moments in the prose and pacing, but overall, this was a wonderfully surprising historical mystery. I was expecting something akin to Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, and while the set pieces bear some similarities, this was a wonderfully dark serial killer thriller set in 1920s Harlem. I loved seeing a different kind of protagonist than we normally see in these books, and I found this to be a very page turning, satisfying mystery CW: racism & hate crimes

  3. 5 out of 5

    Laurie Flynn

    I absolutely LOVED this book. Such a powerful debut from a writer to watch, and Louise Lloyd is about to become your new favorite protagonist. I'm so glad this is a series to have more of Louise to look forward to! Superbly paced and impossible to put down. Five emphatic stars! I absolutely LOVED this book. Such a powerful debut from a writer to watch, and Louise Lloyd is about to become your new favorite protagonist. I'm so glad this is a series to have more of Louise to look forward to! Superbly paced and impossible to put down. Five emphatic stars!

  4. 5 out of 5

    CYIReadBooks (Claire)

    Louise Lloyd, age 15 at the time, escaped her kidnapper and saved three other girls from their captor. At the young age of 15, Louise became the famous “Harlem Hero.” Fast forward 10 years. Louise, now a young woman, is determined to lead a normal life. A life without the stigma of the “Harlem Hero.” In her determination, Louise undertakes a life filled with bootleg alcohol and dancing by night, and working the local cafe by day. Louise’s past cannot be forgotten as fears begin to mount in the nei Louise Lloyd, age 15 at the time, escaped her kidnapper and saved three other girls from their captor. At the young age of 15, Louise became the famous “Harlem Hero.” Fast forward 10 years. Louise, now a young woman, is determined to lead a normal life. A life without the stigma of the “Harlem Hero.” In her determination, Louise undertakes a life filled with bootleg alcohol and dancing by night, and working the local cafe by day. Louise’s past cannot be forgotten as fears begin to mount in the neighborhood. There is a kidnapper at large. A kidnapper that murders its victims. Tensions escalate and Louise is forced to assist in the murder investigations under the guise that white detectives aren’t able to penetrate the Harlem neighborhood for clues. Dead Dead Girls is not a high octane suspense, nor is it a jet fueled thriller. It is a steamship voyage into the Roaring Twenties and the Harlem Renaissance. It is an interesting and measured read. The characters are fascinating and the plot is not like your everyday “whodunnit.” Rather, the “who” is revealed, and the evidence needs to be proven. Not the typical format, but it is something different. However, I didn’t particularly like knowing the “who” as it didn’t seem like there was enough evidence to prove the alleged perpetrator guilty. Added to this, is the unlikely scenario that a common/layperson would be recruited to assist in any murder investigation — it was a little too far fetched for me. In any event, Dead Dead Girls is a decent read and worthy of two stars. It was okay. I received a digital ARC from Berkley Publishing Group through NetGalley. The review herein is completely my own and contains my honest thoughts and opinions.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lyn Liao

    I LOVED this book and Louise. I wish I could have known her, and gone out dancing and drinking with her back in the 20's. The book brings the 1920's in Harlem to life, to the point that I could picture Maggie's cafe and Zodiac, the speakeasy where Lou goes dancing at night, so clearly. The mystery of the dead girls kept me intrigued and I couldn't put the book down. I had to find out who was killing all these girls, and every guess was wrong. That's when I know I am reading a master mystery nove I LOVED this book and Louise. I wish I could have known her, and gone out dancing and drinking with her back in the 20's. The book brings the 1920's in Harlem to life, to the point that I could picture Maggie's cafe and Zodiac, the speakeasy where Lou goes dancing at night, so clearly. The mystery of the dead girls kept me intrigued and I couldn't put the book down. I had to find out who was killing all these girls, and every guess was wrong. That's when I know I am reading a master mystery novel, when I can't guess who the killer is. The tension was well done, the pacing so intense it kept me turning pages, and I love Louise Lloyd and her world so much. I can't wait to read more about Lou in the next book!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kal ★ Reader Voracious

    I'm a simple gal, I see this on Twitter and immediately add the book to my TBR: "if you want a jazz age murder mystery starring a tiny, tired lesbian, look no further than DEAD DEAD GIRLS." And let me tell you: this debut historical mystery did not disappoint! With an amazing atmosphere, complex characters, and engaging plot, I devoured this book in two sittings *shakes fist at sleep* "Secrets were made and kept at the Zodiac. It was a place where men could dance with men, and women could I'm a simple gal, I see this on Twitter and immediately add the book to my TBR: "if you want a jazz age murder mystery starring a tiny, tired lesbian, look no further than DEAD DEAD GIRLS." And let me tell you: this debut historical mystery did not disappoint! With an amazing atmosphere, complex characters, and engaging plot, I devoured this book in two sittings *shakes fist at sleep* "Secrets were made and kept at the Zodiac. It was a place where men could dance with men, and women could dance with women." Instantly gripping with a sense of unease creeping from the narrative, I was transported to Jazz Age New York City. Let's set the scene for Dead Dead Girls with some Jazz ! I loved how the reader is introduced to Louise in the "present time" of 1926 on the dance floor of a Prohibition era club: the freedom and excitement of expressing herself dances on the page. The Zodiac is where she can be herself and dance with her partner Rosa. "On nights like tonight, everything fell into place, and 'good' wasn't even the best word to describe it. 'Magical,' maybe. The way the room vibrated with anticipation as the band struck up, and she was whirled onto the dance floor -- it always elicited the same feeling." Diminutive in stature but not in personality, Louise is a main character you can't help but root for. A survivor of kidnapping ten years prior, she lives a happy and 'simple' life as a waitress and tries to move past her notoriety. But when Black girls turn up dead, the police "ask" (aka force) Louise to help them solve the crimes because she can go where the white cops can't. This is the last thing she wants, but she feels a responsibility to her community to do what she can... and it's quickly obvious that the police haven't been doing much in their investigation. She fights for Black girls who the system seems to not care about and I like how she challenges white apathy. "Summers were time for them to get together as a community. But no one trusted anyone anymore. There was doubt seeping in through the cracks of a community that used to be so close." Expertly plotted, I love how the clues and hints all tie into the greater mystery rather than having obvious and poorly contrived red herrings. Every chapter ends with a quip that only someone recalling with 20/20 perspective would say, and that not only kept me on my toes but kept me reading. I had to know what would happen next, and I was on pins and needles trying to figure out who the killer is and who the killer will attack next. It's a fast read and one I struggled to put down. "It was strange to see how her story wasn't a story until it was. There was no mention of missing girls, no mention of her being snatched from the sidewalk blocks from her home, no mention of this utterly life-changing event, until there was a fifteen-year-old Louise looking shellshocked and dirty, accompanied by three other girls." There's a parallel spanning ten years in Louise's life: when she was abducted in the past and her trying to solve the murders in the present. How no one beyond the community seemed to care about the missing girls until Louise escape; how no one cared about the murdered girls until bodies were left out in the open. It's a critique on not only the news cycle and sensationalism of media but also how crimes against Black people often go unreported and under-investigated. Lingo and slang of the era helps to solidify the era, as sadly the trials and tribulations of Louise and other Black girls of Harlem could have been set in modern times with little difference. The pacing is a little weird towards the end of the book, and I would have liked maybe 20 more pages. I was genuinely wondering if there was going to be a resolution in this book because I was getting close to the end and it was still all rising action building toward the final confrontation... and then it's resolved in a page. I had a case of reader whiplash because I was vibing so hard with the book and then it was over in a blink; I was left feeling a little unsatisfied, which is a shame because other than that it was a stellar read. Overall, Nekesa Afia's historical mystery debut wowed me. I love being so engaged in a plot that I can't put a book down, and the mystery itself is plotted well. While the ending came a little quicker than I'd have liked, it's a testament that I wanted to keep reading. I look forward to the next installment in this series and recommend this one to lovers of historical mystery with female characters who become detectives to speak for the forgotten victims. Representation: Black main character, diverse main cast, LGBT+ characters (gay and sapphic characters) Content Warnings: attempted rape, depictions of grief, loss of a loved one, murder, racism, sexism, use of n-word, victim blaming eARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley for my honest review. This does not affect my opinions of the book nor the content of my review. Quotations are from an uncorrected proof and are subject to change upon final publication. Blog | Twitter | Pinterest

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brenda Feinen

    Great debut - can't wait for the next one! Afia states in the Acknowledgements this story could have taken place in present day as not much has changed for minorities. She chose the 1920s to connect with her history - Afia does an amazing job bringing Prohibition and the Roaring 20s to life. At the age of 16, Louise is abducted from a sidewalk, simply walking home. When she wakes, Louise finds herself chained, along with several other young Black girls. With severe determination, Louise not only Great debut - can't wait for the next one! Afia states in the Acknowledgements this story could have taken place in present day as not much has changed for minorities. She chose the 1920s to connect with her history - Afia does an amazing job bringing Prohibition and the Roaring 20s to life. At the age of 16, Louise is abducted from a sidewalk, simply walking home. When she wakes, Louise finds herself chained, along with several other young Black girls. With severe determination, Louise not only frees herself, but also fellow captives. She becomes known as the Harlem Hero. Ten years later, someone is abducting vulnerable young Black girls, killing them and leaving them displayed. In exchange for forgiveness of an altercation, Louise agrees to help lead Detective Gilbert solve the case. Louise interviews family members, friends of the killed girls, desperate to save those left. Gritty noir crime novel featuring a strong Black woman. The story pulled me in; I loved Louise and her family. Highly recommend.

  8. 5 out of 5

    The Litt Librarian

    Read the full review over at The Litt Librarian! https://thelittlibrarian.wixsite.com/... I had DDG sitting in my virtual TBR list for a couple of months now, so I hope that this is the super early advance reader's copy that I received, because honey… I had two major issues with the book: How it was written and how the story panned out. The story itself wasn't bad. It has all the dressings to make a good gumbo. I simply think it needs another revision. The pacing was good, but the flow of the stor Read the full review over at The Litt Librarian! https://thelittlibrarian.wixsite.com/... I had DDG sitting in my virtual TBR list for a couple of months now, so I hope that this is the super early advance reader's copy that I received, because honey… I had two major issues with the book: How it was written and how the story panned out. The story itself wasn't bad. It has all the dressings to make a good gumbo. I simply think it needs another revision. The pacing was good, but the flow of the story is very choppy. Afia tried to create an air of suspense, but it came off lazy. The opening of the story started strong and clear. It introduces a young girl who experienced first-hand kidnapping and fast-forwarded that same girl's life ten years later. After her run-in with the police from a night of partying, the story started to fall flat for me. Where I considered DNFing, reached from the stupidity of the main character's thinking. To put it, that girl sucks at being a detective. All her moves were predictable and careless, and she had way too many feelings she couldn't explain but acted on impulse. I strongly recommend a revision. The book has potential, and I hope to see it, but for now, this ain't it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Susie Dumond

    As a teenager, Louise Lloyd made headlines for escaping her kidnapper--and freeing his other victims on the way. Now, in 1926, she works at a Maggie's Café by day and at Harlem's coolest speakeasy by night. When dead girls from the club start turning up, Louise can't trust the police to find the murderer. Instead, she takes matters into her own hands. I really, really enjoyed this start to the Harlem Renaissance Mystery series! The setting is so engaging, and Louise Lloyd is the perfect combinati As a teenager, Louise Lloyd made headlines for escaping her kidnapper--and freeing his other victims on the way. Now, in 1926, she works at a Maggie's Café by day and at Harlem's coolest speakeasy by night. When dead girls from the club start turning up, Louise can't trust the police to find the murderer. Instead, she takes matters into her own hands. I really, really enjoyed this start to the Harlem Renaissance Mystery series! The setting is so engaging, and Louise Lloyd is the perfect combination of smart, fun, and irreverent. I really wanted to see more of her relationship with Rosa Maria, but hopefully I'll get to read more about it in the next installment! Thanks to Berkley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Everett

    Nekesa Afia is a dancer. I know this because I hear it in her writing. Dead Dead Girls is a mystery, but it is also a dance. Afia’s writing is syncopation; short beats, swift turns and quick leaps from page to page, hands clasping, twisting, and separating again. There is a soft rhythm beneath the plot that keeps you attuned to all the words she doesn’t use, to the beat of the ones she does select. That she brings her talents to a mystery about an amateur sleuth in 1920’s Harlem – a Black girl n Nekesa Afia is a dancer. I know this because I hear it in her writing. Dead Dead Girls is a mystery, but it is also a dance. Afia’s writing is syncopation; short beats, swift turns and quick leaps from page to page, hands clasping, twisting, and separating again. There is a soft rhythm beneath the plot that keeps you attuned to all the words she doesn’t use, to the beat of the ones she does select. That she brings her talents to a mystery about an amateur sleuth in 1920’s Harlem – a Black girl named Lou who loves dancing, drinking, and other women – makes this debut all the more exciting. Lou is a heroine for the ages and much as I wanted to shake some sense in her, I wanted her to stay forever herself, dancing on the edge and cracking wise. Afia’s prose is spare, elegant, and musical and I will forever read anything she writes with the hunger of someone haunted by a tune.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Canaves

    If you’re about to skip over this one because you don’t read, or aren’t in the mood, for cozy mysteries (which the cover may make you think it is), come back this is not a cozy! Set during the Harlem Renaissance, Louise Lloyd has never been able to avoid the spotlight after escaping a kidnapper as a teenager, and setting free the other girls in the process. The press has remembered her, as has the Harlem community. When she’s arrested for assaulting an officer, this comes in handy for the police If you’re about to skip over this one because you don’t read, or aren’t in the mood, for cozy mysteries (which the cover may make you think it is), come back this is not a cozy! Set during the Harlem Renaissance, Louise Lloyd has never been able to avoid the spotlight after escaping a kidnapper as a teenager, and setting free the other girls in the process. The press has remembered her, as has the Harlem community. When she’s arrested for assaulting an officer, this comes in handy for the police who recognize her and want to use her. There’s a serial killer, killing young Black girls, and the detective in charge thinks a young Black woman like Louise will make it easier to get people to help with the investigation, rather than white cops asking questions. She doesn’t want to but is backed into a corner, so she goes out asking questions, putting herself in danger… Louise is a great character who, after being kidnapped as a teen, being forced to raise her younger siblings, and thrown out by her father, wears no rose colored glasses when viewing the world. What she does love is dancing with her girlfriend and friend until the morning hours at a speakeasy, with zero intention of marrying or doing any of the things expected of women. If you’re looking for a historical mystery, set during the exciting Harlem Renaissance, with a bit of a noir feeling to it, pick up this book. I’m excited that it’s a series starter and look forward to more of Louise and the time period. (TW attempted rape/ kidnapping/ homophobia/ racism) --from Book Riot's Unusual Suspects newsletter: https://link.bookriot.com/view/56a820...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    Welp, now I'm gonna need to read every mystery Nekesa Afia writes, because I cannot get enough of Louise Lloyd. Dead Dead Girls is a stellar debut 1920s jazz-age murder mystery starring a tiny Black lesbian ex-showgirl solving crimes, and if that's not a string of words that makes you want to pick up a book immediately, then unfollow me at once because we cannot be friends. Louise is a standout character not just because of her scrappy crime-solving skills, but because of her beautiful heart, the Welp, now I'm gonna need to read every mystery Nekesa Afia writes, because I cannot get enough of Louise Lloyd. Dead Dead Girls is a stellar debut 1920s jazz-age murder mystery starring a tiny Black lesbian ex-showgirl solving crimes, and if that's not a string of words that makes you want to pick up a book immediately, then unfollow me at once because we cannot be friends. Louise is a standout character not just because of her scrappy crime-solving skills, but because of her beautiful heart, the warmth she shows both her found family and her biological one, and—for me maybe most of all—her love for dancing and music and life. This book made me want to quit my day job and go out and take dance lessons. There's a real joy and transcendence to the scenes of Lou at the Zodiac dancing until the wee hours of the morning, and I can't say enough how much I loved them. This is a smart, page-turning, at-times-gutting mystery you won't want to put down. PS: Rafael is my boy, and the author had better not let anything bad happen to him in any further installments in this series, because I love him. Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of this great debut!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Cowley

    An excellent adult (definitely not YA or cozy) mystery novel that takes us along with a black woman in 1920s Harlem who must help solve the mystery of all the teenage black girls who are being killed. Lots of twists and turns with a really immersive setting (I loved the fashion, the dancing, the music, and the illegal clubs of the Harlem Renaissance). While it's not a romance novel and their relationship is already established, I liked the relationship arc between Louise and Rosa Maria. I was luc An excellent adult (definitely not YA or cozy) mystery novel that takes us along with a black woman in 1920s Harlem who must help solve the mystery of all the teenage black girls who are being killed. Lots of twists and turns with a really immersive setting (I loved the fashion, the dancing, the music, and the illegal clubs of the Harlem Renaissance). While it's not a romance novel and their relationship is already established, I liked the relationship arc between Louise and Rosa Maria. I was lucky enough to receive a free advanced copy of this book from Netgalley.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Woc Reader

    Set during the Harlem Renaissance this story follows Louise who is a waitress enjoying life as much as she can. She was kidnapped as a young girl but managed to escape and free not only herself but others girls earning herself the nickname of Harlem's Hero. A little over a decade later she still is battling some unresolved trauma which she drowns under alcohol and dancing. Her life gets shaken up again when she stumbles across a dead body outside of her place of employment. After a drunken alter Set during the Harlem Renaissance this story follows Louise who is a waitress enjoying life as much as she can. She was kidnapped as a young girl but managed to escape and free not only herself but others girls earning herself the nickname of Harlem's Hero. A little over a decade later she still is battling some unresolved trauma which she drowns under alcohol and dancing. Her life gets shaken up again when she stumbles across a dead body outside of her place of employment. After a drunken altercation with the police she ends up getting recruited as expendable bait to help track down the serial killer terrorizing the Harlem streets. This book took a little bit longer to find it's stride then anticipated. Early on the chapters are very choppy and tend to end in what I assume is an ode to radio mystery shows from that time period. They're these foreshadow heavy cliffhangers meant to build suspense. Which ended up foreshadowing the killer earlier in the story than necessary. Once those were dropped and the author let the suspense build naturally the story flowed much better. I could tell the author had fun with this 1920s setting and wanted to play up the glitz and glamour as much as she could while also keeping it clear that it wasn't all sunshine and roses for Black women. The writing gets stronger towards the end as the story finds it's stride. This series has potential to expand beyond the illegal booze and worst kept secret speakeasies into something magical. 3.5/5 stars I received an arc from Berkley in exchange for an honest review. A little more in depth here https://womenofcolorreadtoo.blogspot....

  15. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    I didn’t like the writing in this- it rubbed me up the wrong way. Also I didn’t really find the premise of the MC becoming an amateur detective convincing,nor some of the situations she found herself in. It’s a real shame as I’d been really looking forward to this book- there’s a real gap in the historical mystery market for any young black protagonist, and especially a female one. The book may also have been spoiled for me by reading Libba Bray’s excellent Diviner’s series set in the same time I didn’t like the writing in this- it rubbed me up the wrong way. Also I didn’t really find the premise of the MC becoming an amateur detective convincing,nor some of the situations she found herself in. It’s a real shame as I’d been really looking forward to this book- there’s a real gap in the historical mystery market for any young black protagonist, and especially a female one. The book may also have been spoiled for me by reading Libba Bray’s excellent Diviner’s series set in the same time period.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mia Manansala

    I had the pleasure of reading an early copy of this debut novel about a queer Black woman in 1920s Harlem forced to assist in the investigation of a serial killer targeting Black girls in her neighborhood. This writer is definitely a talent to watch. Here's my blurb: 'Though she be but little, she is fierce.' Shakespeare might as well have been describing Louise Lloyd, the flawed yet fantastic protagonist in Afia's debut set in 1920s Harlem. I loved the world that Afia created and can't wait to f I had the pleasure of reading an early copy of this debut novel about a queer Black woman in 1920s Harlem forced to assist in the investigation of a serial killer targeting Black girls in her neighborhood. This writer is definitely a talent to watch. Here's my blurb: 'Though she be but little, she is fierce.' Shakespeare might as well have been describing Louise Lloyd, the flawed yet fantastic protagonist in Afia's debut set in 1920s Harlem. I loved the world that Afia created and can't wait to follow Lou and her friends on their next adventure. Come for the wonderfully diverse and twisty mystery, stay for the amazing 20s slang and fashion.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jammin Jenny

    I really enjoyed this historical fiction cozy mystery set in Harlem NY in the 1920s. The main character is Louise Lloyd, a young black woman who at 15 had been kidnapped off the street, and beyond all odds, had escaped her assailant and helped three other teenage black girls escape with her. When we next see her, she is in her early 20s living in a boarding house for Wayward Girls, and is involved with another of the girls Rosa Maria. Young girls are being killed and left outside the cafe Louise I really enjoyed this historical fiction cozy mystery set in Harlem NY in the 1920s. The main character is Louise Lloyd, a young black woman who at 15 had been kidnapped off the street, and beyond all odds, had escaped her assailant and helped three other teenage black girls escape with her. When we next see her, she is in her early 20s living in a boarding house for Wayward Girls, and is involved with another of the girls Rosa Maria. Young girls are being killed and left outside the cafe Louise works at, and the officer in charge asks Louise to help. I loved the ending and finding out who the killer was. I received an e-ARC of this book by the author and publishing via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Andi

    3.5 stars

  19. 4 out of 5

    Addison Armstrong

    DEAD DEAD GIRLS is a fantastic debut that transports the reader to the 20s while telling a story that is not often enough told, especially in history - that of a queer Black girl in Harlem. It's got everything from mystery to family dynamics to history, and I strongly recommend the read! Thanks to the author, the publisher, and Netgalley for the chance to read. DEAD DEAD GIRLS is a fantastic debut that transports the reader to the 20s while telling a story that is not often enough told, especially in history - that of a queer Black girl in Harlem. It's got everything from mystery to family dynamics to history, and I strongly recommend the read! Thanks to the author, the publisher, and Netgalley for the chance to read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    India Holton

    This book is one of the most eloquently written mysteries I've read, with its clear, rhythmic prose and its effortless evocation of the 1920s. Louise Lloyd is forced into becoming an amateur detective, but brings an intelligence and heart to the work that she will need as the danger ramps up. Lou is a spunky hero with wit, charm, and effervescence. Even through heartbreaking moments, her strength offers a sense of hope. I defy any reader not to adore her. Nekesa's writing was purposeful and as st This book is one of the most eloquently written mysteries I've read, with its clear, rhythmic prose and its effortless evocation of the 1920s. Louise Lloyd is forced into becoming an amateur detective, but brings an intelligence and heart to the work that she will need as the danger ramps up. Lou is a spunky hero with wit, charm, and effervescence. Even through heartbreaking moments, her strength offers a sense of hope. I defy any reader not to adore her. Nekesa's writing was purposeful and as strong as the heroine, but also had an unexpected lyricism that sometimes made me catch my breath, such as in this line: "It was two in the morning and the world creaked as it spun." Dead Dead Girls is a powerful debut from a young talent, and I look forward to seeing what Nekesa brings next.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    I absolutely loved this mystery. Lou is fierce but flawed, and just a joy to read about. The mystery kept me turning the pages, and the details about 1920s Harlem were every bit as exciting. Lou loves to dance, and that same kind of breathless energy really propelled this story. Looking forward to what Afia gets her into next!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marlene

    Originally published at Reading Reality It’s 1926. The Roaring 20’s. The period of the “lost generation” post-WW1 and pre-Depression. In Britain, Lord Peter Wimsey is dealing, sometimes badly, with his PTSD and solving crimes. In Australia, Phryne Fisher is seducing young men, solving crimes, and proving to anyone who even thinks to criticize her for doing a man’s job that she’s doing it better than anyone else, including the police, thankyouverymuch and please keep your opinions to yourself. Dead Originally published at Reading Reality It’s 1926. The Roaring 20’s. The period of the “lost generation” post-WW1 and pre-Depression. In Britain, Lord Peter Wimsey is dealing, sometimes badly, with his PTSD and solving crimes. In Australia, Phryne Fisher is seducing young men, solving crimes, and proving to anyone who even thinks to criticize her for doing a man’s job that she’s doing it better than anyone else, including the police, thankyouverymuch and please keep your opinions to yourself. Dead Dead Girls takes place in the same time period, following the same avocation, but not exactly the same world. Louise Lloyd, a black woman in her late 20s, is caught up in a seemingly endless round of late nights dancing at speakeasies, waitressing during the day to pay for those late nights, and living in a single women’s boarding house with-and-not-with her best friend and lover, Rosa. Louise is trying to outrun her demons by dancing and drinking her nights away. But those demons reach out for her in a way she can’t ignore. Young black women are turning up dead in Harlem, and Louise has just discovered the latest victim on the front step of the diner where she works. So many girls have been killed, so close together, that even the white powers-that-be of the NYPD can’t ignore the serial killings any longer – no matter how much they’d rather sweep it all under the rug. When Louise’ anger and frustration at the situation, along with the way that the cops seem to be using the murder investigation as an excuse to harrass as many Harlem residents with no pretext whatsoever rather than solve the crime, bubbles over, she hits a cop, ends up in jail and facing the kind of offer that it isn’t safe to refuse. Help the cops find the killer, or go to jail and let herself be further abused by the system that is designed to keep her people down. At first both reluctant and amateur in all her investigation and interrogation techniques, as the body count rises and the cops make no progress whatsoever, Louise finds herself drawn deeper into a web of hatred, lies and a determined desire on the part of officialdom to look the other way as long as all of the victims are black. Louise can’t look away. She’s frightened at every turn, knowing that she, or someone she loves, could be next. And that no one except her own community will care. But when she stares into the abyss, she discovers that the abyss has been staring back at her all along. Escape Rating B: I have to say that in the end this story hits like a hammer. And I’m still reeling from the blow. But that needs a bit of explanation. Perhaps more than that, because this is one of those stories that made me think – and I’m still thinking. As a historical mystery, Dead Dead Girls manages to hit the sweet spot – or in this case the bittersweet spot – of being both firmly fixed in its time and place while being utterly relevant to the present, to the point where the reader, as much as they know it’s there and then, is certain that it could just as easily be here and now with entirely too few changes. The consequence is that the mystery has a bit of a slow start, because it takes a while for the time machine to transport us back to Harlem in the 1920s. It’s definitely worth the trip, but it takes a few chapters to get us there. At the same time, OMG but this is a hard read after this past year. Because of the way that it feels both historical and all too plausible in the present day. Particularly as I’m writing this review on June 1, the 100th anniversary of the second day of the Tulsa race massacre. Which Louise would have known all about – but which entirely too many of us did not and do not to this day. Just as the murder spree in Harlem that touches Louise’ life much too closely would have been reported on extensively in the Black newspapers of the day like The Defender but would have been totally ignored by the white papers. As a character, at first I found Louise a bit difficult to get close to, because so much of her behavior seems so deliberately reckless. It took me quite a while to get it through my head that her irresponsible behavior doesn’t really matter. She’s in a no-win scenario and nothing that she does or doesn’t do will make it any better. Like all of the things that we women are taught not to do because we might get raped, when the fact of the matter is that rape is about power and not about sex, and there’s little we can do to prevent it – and that we’ll be blamed for it anyway. Louise’ situation is that only multiplied. Exhibiting different behavior, while it might have made her life in her father’s house more tolerable, doesn’t change the way the world perceives her and treats her. She has the power to make things worse, but not to make them better. At least not on her own. Lashing out however and whenever she can is a reasonable response. But I admit that I had to work my way towards that reaction. The mystery that Louise has to solve is as dark and mesmerizing, twisty and turny as any mystery reader could possibly desire. But the circumstances in which Louise has to solve it are weighted with the baggage of racism and sexism in a way that fill much of the story with the darkness of the evil that men do and the inexorable weight of power corrupting – even just the power of small-minded people with little authority – and absolute power corrupting absolutely and inciting more of the same. Dead Dead Girls is the author’s first novel – and what a searing debut it is. I’m looking forward to great, great things in her future work – particularly the second projected book in this series!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Toya (the reading chemist)

    As soon as I heard that this was a book set in 1920s Renaissance Harlem featuring a Black lesbian MC, I couldn't hit the request button fast enough. I have always been in love with the glamour and glitz of the 1920s, but rarely have I seen Black women like me take center stage in the story much less make it onto a cover like this. This story follows Louise Lloyd who is focused on living her best life following a traumatic past. This comes to a head when Louisa finds the body of a 16 year old Bla As soon as I heard that this was a book set in 1920s Renaissance Harlem featuring a Black lesbian MC, I couldn't hit the request button fast enough. I have always been in love with the glamour and glitz of the 1920s, but rarely have I seen Black women like me take center stage in the story much less make it onto a cover like this. This story follows Louise Lloyd who is focused on living her best life following a traumatic past. This comes to a head when Louisa finds the body of a 16 year old Black girl in front of her workplace. Before she can testify, she's arrested for slapping an officer who was attempting to assault a young girl. Louise is given an ultimatum: help solve the case or face the unjust consequences from the Judge. What I loved about this mystery is that it's not your typical whodunit where you need to figure out who the murderer is. In this situation, you know. The difference is that Louise must acquire evidence to ensure that the person is found guilty of their crimes. I definitely appreciated this approach because this is something that is still seen so often when it comes to victims from marginalized communities. As far Louise goes, she was a fantastic character from start to finish. She's fierce, independent, and refuses to be intimidated even when she should definitely run from certain situations. It's also completely understandable her initial hesitancy to get involved considered the past that she endured and the unintended fame that followed. This is such a wonderful debut, and I can't wait to see more of what Afia has to offer. Thank you Berkley for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michelle | musingsbymichelle

    Review to come

  25. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    The bones of this story are so good. A lesbian POC solving crime in 1926 Harlem. So much catnip in one sentence. I wanted another enjoyable historical murder series to look forward to reading a new volume every year. However, the construction of the book needs a rewrite. The flow of chapters is horrible. At the beginning of every chapter, I don't know where we are or how we got there. It reminded me of reading short stories. I honestly want Nekesa Afia to work on it before it gets published. The The bones of this story are so good. A lesbian POC solving crime in 1926 Harlem. So much catnip in one sentence. I wanted another enjoyable historical murder series to look forward to reading a new volume every year. However, the construction of the book needs a rewrite. The flow of chapters is horrible. At the beginning of every chapter, I don't know where we are or how we got there. It reminded me of reading short stories. I honestly want Nekesa Afia to work on it before it gets published. The lost potential of this book hurts. This review is based on an advanced reader copy provided through Netgalley for an honest review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Caleb Dagenhart

    An intriguing concept and highly anticipated debut that, for me, was a decent read, but not a phenomenal one. The pacing and suspense were quite good, but many of the plot developments were a bit too convenient for me to feel fully convinced. There is a level of emotional depth here, but I think there is a lot more opportunity to go deeper and subtler, to show rather than to tell (I know, I know...). Some of the dialogue and Louise's investigative threads felt a bit punctuated, although, to be fa An intriguing concept and highly anticipated debut that, for me, was a decent read, but not a phenomenal one. The pacing and suspense were quite good, but many of the plot developments were a bit too convenient for me to feel fully convinced. There is a level of emotional depth here, but I think there is a lot more opportunity to go deeper and subtler, to show rather than to tell (I know, I know...). Some of the dialogue and Louise's investigative threads felt a bit punctuated, although, to be fair, if that's the tradeoff I have to make to get punchy writing with solid pacing, I'll take it. I appreciated the setting and history that were brought in, even if the world sometimes felt a bit of a blend between the Harlem of the 1920's and modern America. Although this novel gets a mixed reaction from me, I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Nekesa Afia after this first novel. Note: I was provided a free advance reader's copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Jeng

    Louise Lovie Lloyd is one of my favorite protagonists I've read in a while. She’s in her twenties, wise and courageous beyond her years, yet messy and a little bit clueless in a way that will feel familiar to anyone who's been in their twenties and trying to figure out life. Lou’s determination and fear coexist and make her come right off the page. Her identities as a Black woman and a queer woman in 1920s Harlem are also central to the story. Lou just wants to dress in nice clothes, drink Cokes Louise Lovie Lloyd is one of my favorite protagonists I've read in a while. She’s in her twenties, wise and courageous beyond her years, yet messy and a little bit clueless in a way that will feel familiar to anyone who's been in their twenties and trying to figure out life. Lou’s determination and fear coexist and make her come right off the page. Her identities as a Black woman and a queer woman in 1920s Harlem are also central to the story. Lou just wants to dress in nice clothes, drink Cokes (plus gin and the occasional glass of champagne), and go dancing with her girlfriend. But girls in Harlem keep getting murdered, and everyone’s keyed up. After Lou gets into an altercation with the police, she’s threatened with prison for assaulting an officer. (In the immortal words of the inmates of the Cook County Jail women's annex, he had it coming.) The detective working the murders offers her a deal: she helps him with his investigation, going places and asking questions he can’t, or she gets the book thrown at her. It’s an offer she can’t refuse; yet the victims are young Black girls, the same age as Lou's teenaged twin sisters, and she feels an irresistible drive to get to the bottom of their killings and prevent more girls from suffering the same fate. There are plenty of layers in this book: the privilege that allows the white detective to strongarm Lou into helping him, the indifference with which the police treat the murders, and the painful relationship Lou has with her family. Dead Dead Girls transports you to the 1920s with slang, clothes, and music, but it deals with issues that feel timely. The writing is sharp, forceful and pulls you quickly through the story. I’ll be thinking about this book for a long time, and I can’t wait for the next Louise Lloyd installment!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Inscribed Inklings

    Check out the review on my blog- https://inscribedinklings.wordpress.c... Thanks for the digital ARC @prhinternational #partner, Nekesa Afia and Netgalley. This book really confused me. I loved parts of it so much and I didn't like some parts at all. So, I had mixed feelings about the whole thing. More on that later. The book is set in Harlem Renaissance era. It's historical mystery fiction. I loved all the vintage vibes in the book. The setting was just fabulous. It was a bit slow paced at time Check out the review on my blog- https://inscribedinklings.wordpress.c... Thanks for the digital ARC @prhinternational #partner, Nekesa Afia and Netgalley. This book really confused me. I loved parts of it so much and I didn't like some parts at all. So, I had mixed feelings about the whole thing. More on that later. The book is set in Harlem Renaissance era. It's historical mystery fiction. I loved all the vintage vibes in the book. The setting was just fabulous. It was a bit slow paced at times. But it still hooked me till the end. The writing style was articulate. The tone of the book was magical. I loved the feminist undertones of the book. The MC was a badass female lead. The plot was a bit predictable though. The story was about Louise, who was pretty popular in her teen years. She escaped from her kidnapper and saved a bunch of girls. But her overbearing father kept trying to contain her, so she left home. She lived alone now with a bunch of girls in a flat. She was in a relationship with one of the girls- Rosa, a journalist. Suddenly, girls from a particular club keep dying brutally. The police were under pressure to catch the killer. They dubbed him the "Girl killer" which was very off putting for me( where's the imagination lol). Louise punches a racist cop and gets arrested. The officer made a deal with her. If she helps in the investigation, then he won't charge her. So she reluctantly agreed to this. She started investigation and found so many secrets. In the process, she put everyone she loved in the path of harm. Will the prize of catching killer be enough? The big reveal to me was not surprising at all. It was really very obvious. But other than that, the book was really entertaining, I still have the book 4 stars. If you love murder mysteries, you should definitely give this one a try.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Vianne

    Probably closer to 3.5 or 3.75 but I rather enjoyed this as one of my first ventures into the mystery genre! Set in 1920s Harlem, Dead Dead Girls follows Loise Lloyd, a young, Black, lesbian woman who gets roped into solving a mystery of a chain of murders involving Black teen girls. There was a lot to love about this debut. The time period and setting were wonderfully atmospheric, Louise was a fierce and smart protagonist who was very easy to root for and the friendships and romantic relationship Probably closer to 3.5 or 3.75 but I rather enjoyed this as one of my first ventures into the mystery genre! Set in 1920s Harlem, Dead Dead Girls follows Loise Lloyd, a young, Black, lesbian woman who gets roped into solving a mystery of a chain of murders involving Black teen girls. There was a lot to love about this debut. The time period and setting were wonderfully atmospheric, Louise was a fierce and smart protagonist who was very easy to root for and the friendships and romantic relationship were nicely developed. The pacing of the mystery itself was also very well done in my opinion, and I breezed through this book in just a few days without ever getting bored. I really enjoyed seeing the pieces of the mystery come together, however, I was able to figure it out pretty early on in the story with all the hints that were given. Because of this, I found myself a tiny bit underwhelmed with the final reveal but still enjoyed seeing how things played out with the characters. Overall, this was a solid debut that I had a great time with and would recommend to mystery fans and noobs alike. I will for sure be picking up any future installments of this series as well as anything else Afia comes out with! eARC provided by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, thanks!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah (tipsybookreviews)

    DEAD DEAD GIRLS BOOK REVIEW Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Drink rec: Champagne🍾 A mystery set in 1926 Harlem featuring a female protagonist who works at a café by day and then parties at speakeasies at night and solves mysteries? I am HERE👏🏼FOR👏🏼IT! Louise is such a badass female lead and I wish I was half as cool as her! Not to mention this book has some LGBTQ+ representation in it as well! I found DEAD DEAD GIRLS to be unique because I don’t often read historical mysteries and I loved the setting of Harlem in DEAD DEAD GIRLS BOOK REVIEW Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Drink rec: Champagne🍾 A mystery set in 1926 Harlem featuring a female protagonist who works at a café by day and then parties at speakeasies at night and solves mysteries? I am HERE👏🏼FOR👏🏼IT! Louise is such a badass female lead and I wish I was half as cool as her! Not to mention this book has some LGBTQ+ representation in it as well! I found DEAD DEAD GIRLS to be unique because I don’t often read historical mysteries and I loved the setting of Harlem in 1926! The atmosphere of partying all night at speakeasies while there is a serial killer on the loose who targets Black girls in the neighborhood was really suspenseful. While this book was super fast-paced with short chapters, I felt like the story line was a bit choppy at times. Overall, I would definitely recommend picking up this fast-paced mystery! Can’t wait to see where this series goes next!

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