A Death in Harlem: Book summary and reviews of A Death in Harlem by Karla Holloway

A Death in Harlem

by Karla Holloway

A Death in Harlem by Karla Holloway X
A Death in Harlem by Karla Holloway
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2019
    248 pages
    Genre: Mysteries

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Book Summary

In A Death in Harlem, famed scholar Karla Holloway weaves a mystery in the bon vivant world of the Harlem Renaissance.

Taking as her point of departure the tantalizingly ambiguous "death by misadventure" at the climax of Nella Larsen's 1929 best-selling novel Passing, Holloway takes readers back to the sunlit boulevards and shaded sidestreets of Jazz Age New York. A murder there will test the mettle, resourcefulness, and intuition of Harlem's first "colored" policeman, Weldon Haynie Thomas.

Clear glass towers rising in Manhattan belie a city where people are often not what they seem. For some here, identity is a performance of passing—passing for another race, for another class, for someone safe to trust. Thomas's investigation illuminates the societies and secret societies, the intricate code of manners, the world of letters, and the broad social currents of 1920s Harlem. 

A Death in Harlem is an exquisitely crafted, briskly paced, and impeccably stylish journey back to a time still remembered as a peak of American glamour. It introduces Holloway as a fresh voice in storytelling, and Weldon Haynie Thomas as an endearing and unforgettable detective. 

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"The freewheeling ensemble narrative explores the shifting alliances among race and elite social circles. This spiritual successor to Nella Larsen's 1929 novel, Passing, will keep historical mystery fans guessing." - Publishers Weekly

"Holloway brings her period, place, and people alive and provides as a bonus a most unexpected culprit." - Kirkus Reviews

"Fascinating characters, rich period detail, secrets, scandals, power, privilege, poverty, and plenty of plot twists make for an unforgettable and unflinching glimpse into a world that many will find surprising, mysterious, and possibly even mythical. Others of us know how real this world was, is. Nella would be pleased." - Virginia DeBerry, coauthor of Better Than I Know Myself

"A Death in Harlem is both a period novel and a deeply contemporary story with a symphony of memorable characters. The musical, personal voice of Karla Holloway animates this gripping tale full of mystery, humor, and saturated with African American cultural memory." - Emily Bernard, Julian Lindsay Green and Gold Professor of English at the University of Vermont and author of Black is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother's Time, My Mother's Time, and Mine

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More Information

Karla FC Holloway is the James. B. Duke Professor Emerita of English and Law at Duke University, where her research and teaching have included African American literary and cultural studies, bioethics, gender, and law. She is the author of eight books, including Passed On: African-American Mourning Stories; Private Bodies/Public Texts: Race, Gender, and a Cultural Bioethics; and Legal Fictions: Constituting Race, Composing Literatures.

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