Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Dead Dead Girls (Harlem Renaissance Mystery #1)” as Want to Read:
Dead Dead Girls (Harlem Renaissance Mystery #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Dead Dead Girls

(Harlem Renaissance Mystery #1)

by
3.62  ·  Rating details ·  328 ratings  ·  136 reviews
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
...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published June 1st 2021 by Berkley Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Dead Dead Girls, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  328 ratings  ·  136 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Dead Dead Girls (Harlem Renaissance Mystery #1)
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
...more
Mara
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
...more
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
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
...more
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
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
...more
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
...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
...more
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
...more
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
...more
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
...more
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
Emma
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
Allison
Mar 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs
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
...more
Katherine Cowley
Mar 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, fiction, mystery
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
...more
Ms. Woc Reader
May 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
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
...more
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 ...more
Andi
May 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
Addison Armstrong
Apr 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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.
...more
India Holton
Feb 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Claire
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
Tracey
Mar 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, read-2021
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!
Marlene
Jun 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Toya (the reading chemist)
Jun 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Vianne
Jun 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Michelle | musingsbymichelle
Review to come
Shirleynature
I am definitely rooting for Louise, the heroine & amateur sleuth in this highly compelling own voices Harlem renaissance-centered mystery! Thanks to Berkley Books and Netgalley, I'm reading the e-Galley. ...more
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
...more
Sarah Jeng
Mar 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Sondra  Rose  Marie
Apr 23, 2021 rated it liked it
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
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Lady's Formula for Love (The Secret Scientists of London, #1)
  • Arsenic and Adobo (Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery, #1)
  • Dial A for Aunties
  • Meet Me in Paradise
  • Killer Content (A Brooklyn Murder Mystery #1)
  • If I Disappear
  • The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels (Dangerous Damsels, #1)
  • Heart on a Leash (Hearts of Alaska #1)
  • The Love Hypothesis
  • A Peculiar Combination (Electra McDonnell, #1)
  • The Other Me
  • Plot Twist
  • The Tiger Mom's Tale
  • Home Is Not a Country
  • The Secret Bridesmaid
  • The Soulmate Equation
  • The Last Thing He Told Me
  • One Last Stop
See similar books…
See top shelves…

Articles featuring this book

Happy Black History Month! Literary fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, fantasy, sci-fi, short stories, and young adult novels: This...
187 likes · 31 comments
“This wasn’t who she wanted to be. Someone who snuck around, broke into places, snooped through other people’s things.” 0 likes
“You don’t have to save everyone. You’re working yourself to the bone. You need to eat and rest.” 0 likes
More quotes…