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Dead Dead Girls

(Harlem Renaissance Mystery #1)

3.25  ·  Rating details ·  3,855 ratings  ·  815 reviews
Harlem, 1926. Young Black women 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, Harlem’s hottest speakeasy. Louise’s friends, especially her girlfriend, Rosa M
Paperback, 336 pages
Published June 1st 2021 by Berkley Books
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Sara Fultz I am almost halfway through and I would say it is appropriate for teens even if it is adult fiction. While there is language, drinking, and violence a…moreI am almost halfway through and I would say it is appropriate for teens even if it is adult fiction. While there is language, drinking, and violence as the author said, none of it is (in my personal opinion) very explicit. I'd say it is similar to the later Harry Potter novels age rating wise. I would have read this at twelve and enjoyed it.(less)
Nekesa Afia It is not. It's adult fiction. …moreIt is not. It's adult fiction. (less)

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Nilufer Ozmekik
Apr 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
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
The Litt Librarian
May 24, 2021 rated it it was ok
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
May 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, ebook-owned
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
Musings and Perusings
Jun 18, 2021 rated it did not like it
Spoiler free section:

Since this book is by a debut author, I tried to cut a little slack, but there's not a single thing about this book that is good. A debut novel should not read like the first draft.

I don't typically notice the writing style in a book and if I do, it's usually because it's not good and constantly draws attention to itself because of it. This book was full of short, choppy sentences. We got multiple sentences beginning with the same word over and over again, usually "she". The
Nekesa Afia’s own promotional copy (displayed at her Twitter account @nekesaafia) exceeds anything I could devise: “if you want a jazz age murder mystery starring a tiny, tired lesbian, look no further than DEAD DEAD GIRLS.”

Afia’s a Canadian millennial and Dead Dead Girls is her debut novel, the first in a planned series of historical mysteries featuring young, Black, queer Louise Lloyd. Lloyd is in Prohibition-era Harlem, carrying a robust amount of psychological baggage as a survivor of a kidn
I was unsure of what to rate this book. I wanted to like it so much more than I did. The book starts out well, I was invested and the pages pretty much turned themselves.

I Was In....

But then towards the middle of the book the story came to a stop. From about the 160 page mark on the book dragged. And I began to struggle to care about story. It was rather disappointing because up until that point I was enjoying myself. Then this book committed one of my pet peeves. It rushed the ending. I felt l
Laurie Flynn
Feb 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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! ...more
Ms. Woc Reader
May 30, 2021 rated it it was ok
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
At the age of 15, Louise Lloyd became “Harlem’s Hero” when she managed to escape from a kidnapper/murderer and bring three other girls with her. Now, at 26, she just wants to be anonymous, spending her days working at a cafe and her nights dancing and drinking with her girlfriend.

But then a dead girl is left in front of the cafe. And the detective assigned to the case pulls Louise in to help track down a serial killer.
I was eagerly looking forward to this book. Look at that cover! And the i
CYIReadBooks (Claire)
May 12, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
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
Lyn Liao
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
May 05, 2021 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Jun 04, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Rep: Black lesbian mc, Latina lesbian li, Latino gay side character, Black side characters

CWs: rape threats, racial slurs, sexual harassment, attempted rape, femicide

i think the problem i had was mainly to do with the writing. for all that the book is set in 1926, it really doesn't feel it. about the only thing that suggests it is, is the slang.

and (more personally) i'm begging that you stop trying to end every section with short snappy sentences. in fact, i'm begging that everything about this
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
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 ...more
Jun 18, 2021 rated it did not like it
Ugh. At 40% in, I didn't think I'd like it. At 63% I knew I wouldn't enjoy it, but I pushed through and skimmed the last quarter of the book. Did. Not. Like. The plot was predictable and I guessed it early on, but I could not get with the writing style. It didn't flow. The sentences were choppy and there wasn't enough transition to explain thoughts and scenes. I trudged through because it was my book club pick and I wanted to participate in the discussion. ...more
Mia Manansala
Feb 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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
3.5 stronger beginning than end, why so many repetitions of the phrase “tried to pull myself up to my full height” like
Caleb Dagenhart
Mar 10, 2021 rated it it was ok
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
Elizabeth Everett
Feb 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Loc'd Booktician
Oct 30, 2021 rated it liked it
I got an awesome opportunity to speak with Nekesa about Dead, Dead Girls. What I loved most about this book was the setting and family relationship elements. As I read this book, I was reminded of what it must have been like for a black woman as a detective at this time. I found the protagonist to be lead to help other girls due to her relationship with her sisters. The cover art is stunning and I can’t wait to read Harlem Sunset!

Interview is below!

Where do I start with this one?

I struggled big time with this book. I was so excited to read about another story based in 1920s Harlem. After reading Wild Women and the Blues I’ve been craving more black historical fiction including the glamour and beauty of African American culture. So with this book (and this incredible cover), I just knew I would get the fix I needed. However…

My first issue was with the ominous sentences at the end of many of the chapters early on in the book. Listen, I don
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
Aug 06, 2021 rated it it was ok
I mean, it wasn't BAD, but it sure was underwhelming ...more
Bekah Cossaboom
Jun 09, 2021 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The story started out strong, then it got confusing, then frustrating and eventually I was disappointed, most especially by that ending.

. Gorgeous cover
. Strong start to the story
. A black, queer, female MC in the 1920s (how often do you see this??)

1. Lou made no sense sometimes - Please explain to me how a supposed detective justifies going out, dancing and drinking all night while smack in the middle of a murder case?? A serial killer case at that?
I understand th
Susie Dumond
Apr 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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
Brenda Feinen
May 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021-netgalley
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
I always assumed historical novels would be full of fancy old words I wouldn't be able to understand. Fortunately, this book rather reads like a contemporary book.

Which is also why I really enjoyed the writing style, as as well as the fast pace of the book. Short chapters kept me hooked all through the end!

However, I was a bit disappointed that some bits of the story were kind of spoilered by foreshadowings in the text. They were quite obvious and ruined some plot twists because one already knew
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