Harlem Sunset

Harlem Sunset, Nekesa Afia's second novel in the Harlem Renaissance mystery series, is set in 1927. Afia (Dead Dead Girls) tells the emotional story of a woman grappling with her violent past, who must face her demons and embrace the present as a proud, queer Black woman.

Louise "Lovie" Lloyd should be happy. She is in love with Rosa Maria Moreno; works at a speakeasy as a club manager for her friend Rafael, who is Rosa Maria's twin brother; and drinks and dances nightly at this same speakeasy, called the Dove. It is one of the few places Louise can be openly affectionate with Rosa Maria and not ostracized. But Louise is haunted by the fact that she killed a cop last year, a serial killer preying on Black girls. As a result, Louise earned the moniker "Harlem's Hero," a name she doesn't think she deserves. She also still mourns the fallout from her escape from a kidnapper a decade prior; this freed other children but left her young sister dead. Following a night of drinking on her 27th birthday, Louise and her friends wake up on the floor of the Dove with no memory of the night before. Next to them is the body of Nora Davies, a young woman Louise had helped 10 years ago. Louise seeks Nora's killer, especially given that the police want to blame Rosa Maria.

Using the amateur sleuth framework, the suspenseful Harlem Sunset, set against the background of the Harlem Renaissance, excels at illustrating the culture of the late 1920s--and at capturing a woman dealing with her choices while simultaneously discovering what she wants in life. --Oline H. Cogdill, freelance reviewer 

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