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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. 5 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. 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!

  3. 4 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!

  4. 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, coming june 2021" 2.24.2021: I GOT AN EARC AND AM NOW DEAD 10.28.2020: *yodels loudly at the cover reveal on Twitter today* 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 ar 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, coming june 2021" 2.24.2021: I GOT AN EARC AND AM NOW DEAD 10.28.2020: *yodels loudly at the cover reveal on Twitter today* 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

  5. 4 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.

  6. 4 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.

  7. 5 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Ellis

    I was SO excited when I first saw a murder mystery set during the Harlem Renaissance -- and with a queer, Black woman detective -- yes please! This crucial period of history is vastly underrepresented in fiction, and I'm so glad Nekesa Afia has finally arrived with this stunning debut. While she does keep the promises of what a reader will expect from the genre, Afia doesn't hide behind the glitz and glamour of the 1920s. Instead, she exposes the dark corners of those Prohibition years, highligh I was SO excited when I first saw a murder mystery set during the Harlem Renaissance -- and with a queer, Black woman detective -- yes please! This crucial period of history is vastly underrepresented in fiction, and I'm so glad Nekesa Afia has finally arrived with this stunning debut. While she does keep the promises of what a reader will expect from the genre, Afia doesn't hide behind the glitz and glamour of the 1920s. Instead, she exposes the dark corners of those Prohibition years, highlighting the pages of history that have been written over by white voices, claiming Black culture as their own. DEAD DEAD GIRLS easily leads you onto the dance floor with a graceful Waltz, and quickly twirls you into a Charleston, and as the rhythm picks up, you won't ever want to sit back down. (Seriously, do NOT pick this up right before bedtime or you will see the light of dawn!) The mystery itself is expertly woven, and will certainly satisfy both a newbie to the genre, and the Jessica Fletchers among us. The suspects are complex and multi-faceted, keeping you guessing at every turn. The author does an incredible job of placing red-herrings, and varying pace throughout the novel to keep the tension up and the reader on their toes. Though every single character in this novel jumps off of the page with life, Louise Lloyd is a standout heroine. THIS is the friend you call in a crisis, or just when you need a fun night out. Louise is incredibly smart and compassionate, and uses her charisma and life experiences in a unique way to solve the case, while constantly fighting against prejudice and her family's judgement to keep her friends and sisters safe. There is a huge amount of emotional depth in this book that goes far beyond the murders at its core, and I'm so thrilled we are going to continue following Louise on her adventures throughout this series. Deftly written and completely atmospheric, DEAD DEAD GIRLS is a standout debut clearly steeped in research and containing so so much heart. I cannot wait to see what Louise and her friends do next! I'm a Nekesa Afia fan for life.

  11. 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!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gemini

    I received this ARC from NetGalley. Dead Dead Girls is a murder mystery set in 1920s Harlem. We meet the main character, Louise, when she is abducted by a stranger. She manages to free herself and the other girls that the abductor had imprisoned before her. We catch up with her a decade later, after the hoopla of her being the “Harlem Hero” has died down. There is a serial killer targeting teenage girls in her neighborhood. After a run-in with the police, Louise is given the choice to help solve I received this ARC from NetGalley. Dead Dead Girls is a murder mystery set in 1920s Harlem. We meet the main character, Louise, when she is abducted by a stranger. She manages to free herself and the other girls that the abductor had imprisoned before her. We catch up with her a decade later, after the hoopla of her being the “Harlem Hero” has died down. There is a serial killer targeting teenage girls in her neighborhood. After a run-in with the police, Louise is given the choice to help solve the murders or face prison time. The story follows Louise as she uses her wits and few resources to try to track down the “Girl Killer”. The concept of the story was really interesting to me. I was immediately drawn in by the mystery of it. I loved that Louise was so quick thinking and tough. She made for an amazing heroine. I struggled with the writing not giving me a 1920s feel. It came off as a much more contemporary story. As it unfolded, the suspense was just lukewarm for me. It didn’t feel like an edge of your seat suspense thriller ever fully manifested. Quite a few times, I thought that the story didn’t feel believable. I hope that some parts of the book are edited and fleshed out a little better before publication. Overall it was a good book, but not great. I feel like it’s a 3 star read. Thank you to NetGalley, Berkeley Publishing Group and Nekesa Afia for the opportunity to review this book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sondra Rose Marie

    I liked Dead Dead Girls, but I didn't love it. Let's start with what worked: It was *awesome* to read a story about a Black queer woman solving crime in 1920s New York City. That type of representation is almost non existant, so coming across it here (as a reader who is a Black queer woman) was so validating. I love how vibrant Harlem feels while reading: it's easy to paint a picture of each speakeasy, café, and park. I also loved that this book didn't pretend that racism didn't exist, but weave I liked Dead Dead Girls, but I didn't love it. Let's start with what worked: It was *awesome* to read a story about a Black queer woman solving crime in 1920s New York City. That type of representation is almost non existant, so coming across it here (as a reader who is a Black queer woman) was so validating. I love how vibrant Harlem feels while reading: it's easy to paint a picture of each speakeasy, café, and park. I also loved that this book didn't pretend that racism didn't exist, but weaved a realistic take on it into the story. It felt so much more believable because of that. Okay, so now for what didn't feel quite right for me: the mystery. To be fair, I love true crime and I read thrillers, but I don't read a TON of mysteries. However, this mystery here didn't feel quite aligned to me: I never fully understood the killer's signature, his reason for killing didn't get as deeply explored as I wished, and the pacing felt a little off to me. There were things Louise didn't pick up on that were obvious signs and other things she found fishy for no reason. I like when I can solve the crime with the main character and here, I felt like I wasn't given a chance to: I had to be content to just sit on my hands and watch Louise solve the mystery. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC of this book!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jessica (the naptime writer)

    Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own. 3.5 ⭐️ In Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia 1920s Harlem is the backdrop for a mystery starring an intrepid 26 year old named Louise Lloyd, also known as Harlem’s Hero. At 16, Louise rescued herself & other Black teen girls from a kidnapper. Now, ten years later, she works at a cafe, loves to go out dancing with her friend & lover Rosa Maria, & is alienated from her family after angering her strictly reli Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own. 3.5 ⭐️ In Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia 1920s Harlem is the backdrop for a mystery starring an intrepid 26 year old named Louise Lloyd, also known as Harlem’s Hero. At 16, Louise rescued herself & other Black teen girls from a kidnapper. Now, ten years later, she works at a cafe, loves to go out dancing with her friend & lover Rosa Maria, & is alienated from her family after angering her strictly religious father. But things grow much more complicated for our heroine when young Black women are murdered & placed outside Louise’s work & she’s forced to help investigate their deaths. There are lots of things about Dead Dead Girls that captivate: the intriguing setting & how it’s captured w/ little details; how independent Louise is & her punchy one-liners; her striking observations about how Black women are treated & how white police officers discriminate against Black residents of Harlem. I love when she takes off on her own investigations, how ingenious she is in making use of her clothes for hiding things. The glitz of the flapper lifestyle & Louise’s personality draw me in but overall, the mystery itself doesn’t feel as tight as it could be, particularly at the end. Dead Dead Girls offers a compelling backdrop & a resourceful, glamorous heroine, but the mystery doesn’t hit quite as hard as I’d like. Release date: 06/01 CWs: Louise has a horrible experience w/ white police officers; they call her racial slurs, throw peanuts at her, sexually harass & threaten her. Black teen girls are kidnapped; in some cases murdered. Attempted rape.

  15. 5 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!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lori Holuta

    This can't-put-it-down novel gives a vintage twist to the 'ordinary citizen teams up with police to fight crime' trope. But while that usually involves an eager crime-fan, or a writer doing research, Louise Lovie Lloyd is neither. In fact, she's possibly the worst choice to help the police catch the Girl Killer before he strikes again, but she's who they need. Who is killing Harlem's Black working girls? Will Louise be next? Or will her 1920s flapper lifestyle get her first? Between gulping down This can't-put-it-down novel gives a vintage twist to the 'ordinary citizen teams up with police to fight crime' trope. But while that usually involves an eager crime-fan, or a writer doing research, Louise Lovie Lloyd is neither. In fact, she's possibly the worst choice to help the police catch the Girl Killer before he strikes again, but she's who they need. Who is killing Harlem's Black working girls? Will Louise be next? Or will her 1920s flapper lifestyle get her first? Between gulping down illegal hooch, smoking too many cigarettes, staying up dancing all night, working on a just a few hours sleep, and hiding a secret scandalous romance, Louise has to find the time and energy to help solve the case. Nekesa Afia's debut novel is intended to be the first in a new series of vintage mysteries. Will I be keeping an eye out for the next book? You bet, Louise! Thank you to author Nekesa Afia, NetGalley, and Berkley Publishing Group for allowing me to read a digital advance review copy of this book. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rosann

    The summary grabbed my interest start to finish. I love the cover art, it really captures the feeling of this book. These are characters in a setting whose stories have not been told before. I read alot of mysteries and looked forward to delving into the world of Harlem in the 1920s. The characters are interesting and complex. I felt that the character of Louise and her frantic life deserved even more of a connection with her traumatic history. The author does a good job filling in the backgroun The summary grabbed my interest start to finish. I love the cover art, it really captures the feeling of this book. These are characters in a setting whose stories have not been told before. I read alot of mysteries and looked forward to delving into the world of Harlem in the 1920s. The characters are interesting and complex. I felt that the character of Louise and her frantic life deserved even more of a connection with her traumatic history. The author does a good job filling in the background details. Having said that, I had problems with the choppy prose and sometimes confusing lack of segues between scenes.. Dialogue was not always clearly defined, Louise' drive to investigate and protect were dropped inexplicably, to pop back in a chapter or so later. The religious references were confusing and contradictory. Tighter editing would easily take care of this. I would like to see more of this character.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Morgan R

    1926 Jazz age Harlem New York, we fall in love with Louise Lloyd a hard-working waitress living in a group home who adores going out to the speakeasy with her girlfriend and her brother. She quickly gets wrapped up in a string of murder investigations by working with the police to keep from going to jail after an unfortunate incident. By becoming an informant and investigating the crimes of the serial killer on the loose, she conveniently becomes everyone's trustworthy best friend and the clues 1926 Jazz age Harlem New York, we fall in love with Louise Lloyd a hard-working waitress living in a group home who adores going out to the speakeasy with her girlfriend and her brother. She quickly gets wrapped up in a string of murder investigations by working with the police to keep from going to jail after an unfortunate incident. By becoming an informant and investigating the crimes of the serial killer on the loose, she conveniently becomes everyone's trustworthy best friend and the clues seem to fall into her lap. While twisty, fierce, and just plain fun, this one fell flat for me with the choppy transitions and exceedingly unbelievable investigative thread. 3 stars for the writing, 5 stars for the cover (I mean, just look at it!!), main character, setting, time period, and pacing. *I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you also to Berkeley Publishing Group and Nekesa Afia.*

  19. 4 out of 5

    Olivia Blacke

    DEAD DEAD GIRLS expertly combines killer suspense with a heroine to die for. Exemplifying 1920's fashion and glamor, tiny Louise Lloyd shines on the dance floor of illicit speakeasies. A Black lesbian outcast from her family, Lou learned how to take care of herself at a young age, and when young girls start dying in Harlem, she steps up to take care of them, too. Louise might be a reluctant hero, but she'll never give up no matter what the cost. Debut author Nekesa Afia expertly creates an intric DEAD DEAD GIRLS expertly combines killer suspense with a heroine to die for. Exemplifying 1920's fashion and glamor, tiny Louise Lloyd shines on the dance floor of illicit speakeasies. A Black lesbian outcast from her family, Lou learned how to take care of herself at a young age, and when young girls start dying in Harlem, she steps up to take care of them, too. Louise might be a reluctant hero, but she'll never give up no matter what the cost. Debut author Nekesa Afia expertly creates an intricate mystery in a lush setting with a strong female main character that is so captivating I'd read a whole book of her doing nothing more exciting than baking a cake (not that she bakes). DEAD DEAD GIRLS is a must read!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Isabella | ilashreads

    The premise and blurb for Dead Dead Girls had me hooked! This was easily one of my most anticipated reads. The mystery was just what I wanted, it kept me on the edge of my seat. I want Louise to be my friend. She was everything I love in a MC. I loved the side characters and thought that the development of the world was great. I also liked how Nekesa Afia showed the systemic racism and how the story she told could have easily taken place in 2021 rather than 1928. If you want this fresh take on a m The premise and blurb for Dead Dead Girls had me hooked! This was easily one of my most anticipated reads. The mystery was just what I wanted, it kept me on the edge of my seat. I want Louise to be my friend. She was everything I love in a MC. I loved the side characters and thought that the development of the world was great. I also liked how Nekesa Afia showed the systemic racism and how the story she told could have easily taken place in 2021 rather than 1928. If you want this fresh take on a mystery that touches on real topics, I recommend checking this out. CW: attempted sexual assault, killing, kidnapping, drugging, abuse Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley for providing me with an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Linden

    It’s 1926, and Louise, a resident of Harlem, has just hit a police officer because she thought was hurting another girl, and because she has a temper. She should be booked for assault, but Detective Gilbert says if she will help him solve the case of girls who are being killed in the neighborhood, he will make the case disappear. I didn’t buy this premise at all--since the police were pretty disrespectful to the Harlem residents, it seemed unlikely that this white officer would ask Louise to hel It’s 1926, and Louise, a resident of Harlem, has just hit a police officer because she thought was hurting another girl, and because she has a temper. She should be booked for assault, but Detective Gilbert says if she will help him solve the case of girls who are being killed in the neighborhood, he will make the case disappear. I didn’t buy this premise at all--since the police were pretty disrespectful to the Harlem residents, it seemed unlikely that this white officer would ask Louise to help with a case. Sadly, the killer’s identity was pretty obvious, too, and the ending was unsatisfying I was looking forward to reading a mystery set during the Harlem Renaissance, but this novel was a major disappointment--two and a half stars. Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the ARC.

  22. 5 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.

  23. 5 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.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Janet Arden

    Dead Dead Girls starts with a bang, and continues in a whirlwind of dancing and jazz. The author does a brilliant job of combing the Jazz Age Harlem setting with a heroine for the ages. Louise Lovie Lloyd is a strong independent woman of color who is determined to save girls like her, before they meet a terrible death. By bravely searching out the girls who are kidnapped and fall between the cracks of a bent justice system, she is doing nothing less than trying to save her own corner of the worl Dead Dead Girls starts with a bang, and continues in a whirlwind of dancing and jazz. The author does a brilliant job of combing the Jazz Age Harlem setting with a heroine for the ages. Louise Lovie Lloyd is a strong independent woman of color who is determined to save girls like her, before they meet a terrible death. By bravely searching out the girls who are kidnapped and fall between the cracks of a bent justice system, she is doing nothing less than trying to save her own corner of the world. She is at once vulnerable, sassy, and strong, and we see her growth in the novel. I hope Dead Dead Girls is the first of many books about Louise Lovie Lloyd.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brittany | chasingmrdarcy

    I loved this book! The setting of Harlem and Louise Lloyd as the lead were perfection. I loved the twists in the book, and I thought the plot was very well-developed. The ending was amazing, too! Overall, I fell in love with these characters and the story, and I can’t wait for others in the series to com out. I felt like I was transported from 2021 to 1920 and Harlem, and it was truly like taking a time traveling journey with a mysterious twist. Louise Lloyd as the main protagonist was such an i I loved this book! The setting of Harlem and Louise Lloyd as the lead were perfection. I loved the twists in the book, and I thought the plot was very well-developed. The ending was amazing, too! Overall, I fell in love with these characters and the story, and I can’t wait for others in the series to com out. I felt like I was transported from 2021 to 1920 and Harlem, and it was truly like taking a time traveling journey with a mysterious twist. Louise Lloyd as the main protagonist was such an inspiring, motivating character that I will not soon forget her! Thank you Berkley for the advanced copy of this book. I enjoyed it immensely!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Freya Sampson

    This book was an absolute joy. Louise is a fantastic heroine: tiny but fearless, complex but flawed, and I was immediately drawn into her world. The story may be set a hundred years ago, but the characters in this novel are wonderfully relevant for twenty-first century readers. The writing is fast paced and stylish, and the author beautifully evokes the atmosphere of prohibition era Harlem - from page one I could visualise this book as if it were a film. The plot twists and turns, throwing out w This book was an absolute joy. Louise is a fantastic heroine: tiny but fearless, complex but flawed, and I was immediately drawn into her world. The story may be set a hundred years ago, but the characters in this novel are wonderfully relevant for twenty-first century readers. The writing is fast paced and stylish, and the author beautifully evokes the atmosphere of prohibition era Harlem - from page one I could visualise this book as if it were a film. The plot twists and turns, throwing out wonderful red herrings along the way, and the ending left me speechless. Add to this the fact the heroine is black and queer, and this is an astonishing debut from a major new mystery voice.

  27. 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.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    Overall I enjoyed this debut. I liked the period details and wish there were more of them. The conclusion felt like it took a while to arrive, but the final confrontation still managed to feel abrupt. The characters including Louise, Rosa Maria, Rafael, and Louise’s family are the best part. Everyone has complex relationships with each other, and the potential for a series based on these characters is obvious. I will pick up the author’s next book. NetGalley provided me with an arc in exchange fo Overall I enjoyed this debut. I liked the period details and wish there were more of them. The conclusion felt like it took a while to arrive, but the final confrontation still managed to feel abrupt. The characters including Louise, Rosa Maria, Rafael, and Louise’s family are the best part. Everyone has complex relationships with each other, and the potential for a series based on these characters is obvious. I will pick up the author’s next book. NetGalley provided me with an arc in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 4 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.

  30. 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

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