Cover Image: Dead Dead Girls

Dead Dead Girls

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Member Reviews

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.
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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!
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I liked this mystery a great deal, especially its fierce heroine, Louise Lloyd, judicious use of 1920s slang (it's so easy to take it too far!), and its vivid setting and sense of place. I occasionally had difficulty following the transitions between scenes, but I think they'll be more clear in the page layout of the finished product. I loved Louise's spirit, courage and commitment to her friends, sisters, and community. I look forward to reading more of her adventures in future books and will absolutely be recommending this to the mystery fans in my life and at the library! 

Many thanks for the opportunity to read and review!
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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.
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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.
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In short, ‘Dead Dead Girls’ is a murder mystery that takes place in jazz-age Harlem, New York and stars a tiny, black lesbian who loves staying out all night dancing and drinking bootlegged gin. In shorter...yes. all of the yes. This book is beautifully written and you can tell that the author did a ton of research into 1920s slang and culture in order to properly set the scene, which is something that I will always, always give kudos to. I loved the smart, stubborn, brave Louise Lovie straight from chapter one, and she’s the type of main character who you don’t love DESPITE their flaws, but rather you love them BECAUSE of their flaws. I did my typical trawling of the author’s social media and I was super impressed to see that, A) this is her debut novel, and B) that this book started out as a NaNoWriMo project! Hell yeah! This is an author to keep your eye on; she’s going to do great things.
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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!
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What a debut novel! Louise Lovie Lloyd is now one of my favorite characters ever and I cannot wait for more. I loved that the author decided to set the story in the 1920's, especially after reading her Author's Note. The 1920's is romanticized greatly and to see it striped away down to the grittiness that it was, especially for Black people, was something that I have wanted to see for a long time. I loved all of the character. They were beautifully crafted with their strengths and flaws. The murder mystery was also thrilling to read and cry over the poor girls. I am super ready for book number two so I have another book that I can't put down!
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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.
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