Harlem Sunset by Nekesa Afia Book Review Read it later

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Contributor Lindsey S.

Harlem Sunset is the second book in the Harlem Renaissance series by Nekesa Afia. We continue following Louise Lloyd, her girlfriend Rosa Maria, and best friend Rafael as they navigate their new reality following the case of the Girl Killer.

This sequel is much shorter than the first, and made for a quick, easy read. This played a role in how I felt overall about the novel. Before we discuss my personal feelings, let me briefly tell you what Harlem Sunset is all about!


Have you read Harlem Sunset yet?

We pick up roughly 10 months after the first book in the series, Dead Dead Girls. Our main character, Louise Lloyd, has fallen from her perch as Harlem’s Hero after shooting a cop who turned out to be a very bad man. Lousie would love nothing more than to be erased from the newspaper headlines so she can focus on her budding relationship with Rosa Maria and the newly opened Dove Nightclub. Together with Rosa Maria and her brother Rafael, the trio is finding great success in the nightclub life, filling their evenings with booze, music, and dancing.

Nora Davies was one of the girls Louise freed when she saved herself and the other captives from a kidnapper 10 or so years ago. She has been looking for Louise ever since. Thanks to all the recent newspaper coverage, Nora is able to track Louise down. Once the doors of the Dove Nightclub are closed for the evening, Nora, Louise, and her business partners share a bottle of champagne that turns out to be drugged.

The following morning, Nora is dead and Rosa Maria wakes up covered in her blood, which begins the mystery at the heart of this book. Who killed Nora, and why? Suddenly, Louise Lloyd is once again at the helm of the investigation. She must solve the case and prove Rosa Maria’s innocence before Officer Martin arrests both Louise and Rosa Maria.

Louise feels incredibly alone during this time. Not only is she working against the clock, she must also try to keep her youngest sister, Josie, from drowning in her depression. Enter Fox Schoonmaker, who, while a little bit sketchy, becomes an important ally to Louise. He shows her that she is the only person in charge of her story. Whatever story Louise wants to tell is the one the world should hear, not the one others have been writing for–and about–her over the years.


Harlem Sunset

Genre: Fiction/ Historical Fiction

Harlem Sunset tells the story of Louise. When her girlfriend wakes up and discovers herself covered in blood, Louise again finds herself invovled a case again. Unlike Dead Dead Girls, Louise is now the suspect.

Read the full review of Dead Dead Girls.

Buy this Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-million | Audible



My feelings about this book are essentially the same as they were when it came to Dead Dead Girls. I continue to like Louise as a main character, although her trusting nature often gets her into unnecessary hot water.

I connect a lot to Louise as an older sister. I understand the pressure that comes with having to lead by example. Louise, however, is often the example of what not to do, of who you’ll be if you don’t choose the “right path.” Despite the pressures from her family to change her lifestyle, Louise knows who she is and remains true to herself. I really admire that about her and have liked seeing her grow over the course of these two books.

Harlem Sunset by Nekesa Afia Book Review
Get your copy of Harlem Sunset on Amazon!

In fact, I really enjoyed how all of the characters grew. By the end of the book, they each made life decisions that they wanted to make. They didn’t allow themselves to be tethered to a place, relationships, or friendships that didn’t feel beneficial to them. While these were not easy decisions, I like the direction Afia has taken the characters.

As with Dead Dead Girls, this book wasn’t as developed as it could have been. The writing style feels very young, scenes aren’t as well-done as they could be, and characters are sometimes underdeveloped. At times I didn’t quite understand why a character was behaving a certain way and their decisions weren’t sufficiently explained. This book is also about 100 pages shorter than the first one, so it doesn’t leave a lot of room for the story to bloom.

Like Dead Dead Girls, this was a three-star read for me. I’m not entirely sure that I will continue on with the series, as I tend to enjoy mysteries with a bit more meat. But I do think readers who enjoy simpler, not-so-intense mysteries will love these books.

What do you think of my Harlem Sunset by Nekesa Afia Book Review?

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Popular Books by this author

DeadDeadgirls book cover image

Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Mystery

Dead Dead Girls tells the story of Louise Lloyd. She gets invovled in trying to find out who is murdering dancers at speakeasies. And she doesn’t want to be the next victim.

Read the full review of Dead Dead Girls here.

Buy this Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-million | Audible

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Harlem Sunset by Nekesa Afia
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