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I was blessed enough to get an advanced reader copy of this book I m not sure if I was asked for a review but probably I pretty much review and keep track of the books I read anyway.I LOVED this book I did not realize it was on good reads and so I did not mark my progress with notes like I would ve liked to do for a novel like this The Harlem in this novel felt tangible and real, it had smell, taste and texture I m intensely interested in this time period and area in the US It was a treasu I was blessed enough to get an advanced reader copy of this book I m not sure if I was asked for a review but probably I pretty much review and keep track of the books I read anyway.I LOVED this book I did not realize it was on good reads and so I did not mark my progress with notes like I would ve liked to do for a novel like this The Harlem in this novel felt tangible and real, it had smell, taste and texture I m intensely interested in this time period and area in the US It was a treasure to spend time with famous African Americans of that era Zora Neale Hurston, Bumpy Johnson, etc Also Barnard College in the Anthropology department with Zora Wow Zora acts and behaves very believably The mystery is ok, well written but truly what I loved the most was the window into this time period I m not giving to many plot details because frankly the other reviewer covers that brilliantly I want to shine a light on how effective the world building was Magical I can not recommend this book highly enough to those that enjoy historical novels Especially those interested in historical novels featuring African American main characters Perfection I hope to reread this and leave adetailed review in about a month A charming book, very difficult to dislike Interesting setting, cool characters, good plotting, and the pacing is perfect However, there were LOADS of typos, waythan I ve ever come across in a single book even the main character s name is misspelled on the cover It was very distracting, a bit like playing a buggy game. It s a bit of a pity this book came out in December since I feel like books that are released this month can t jump on the buzz wagon so easily, with everyone already having delivered their Year s Best lists.Anyway, the concept alone is worth the price of admission Beyond that, Burke has a knack for creating a sense of time and place which brings Harlem to life with rich elegance Any mystery or crime fiction reader should pick up this book. Last month, I learned of a free giveaway offer for Chesya Burke s new novel, Strange Crimes of Little Africa, which will be coming out from Rothco Press on December 1st I was lucky enough to be one of those who received a no strings attached electronic ARC, although in the interests of full disclosure, the publishers did ask after the fact if I would be willing to post a review Since I do that for almost all the books I read, that s no problem Strange Crimes of Little Africa is set in 1926, i Last month, I learned of a free giveaway offer for Chesya Burke s new novel, Strange Crimes of Little Africa, which will be coming out from Rothco Press on December 1st I was lucky enough to be one of those who received a no strings attached electronic ARC, although in the interests of full disclosure, the publishers did ask after the fact if I would be willing to post a review Since I do that for almost all the books I read, that s no problem Strange Crimes of Little Africa is set in 1926, in Harlem, in the middle of the Harlem Renaissance and the flowering of jazz The protagonist is Jaz Idewell, a young black woman studying anthropology at Barnard College Jaz is bright, sure of herself, and proud of her position in Harlem society as the daughter of the first black cop in New York, a man that her neighbours look up to and respect Inspired by her father s profession, she has an interest in criminology, and even fancies that she might become not just a lady cop, but a detective.She has a good life Her best friend is fellow Barnard student Zora Neale Hurston yes, that Zora Neale Hurston and she has loose connections to other members of the Harlem Renaissance She s connected, happy, and even the white professors and cops in her life seem to like her.Then it all begins to unravel when she finds herself witness to the discovery of a body long hidden, and realises that the dead man is her uncle, missing for 15 years In her desire to solve the mystery of what happened, and clear the name of her cousin, arrested for the murder, Jaz, with Zora at her side, will explore the dangerous corners of Harlem life and discover hard truths about herself, her family, and the society she lives in This is not just a historical murder mystery, this is also the nuanced and poignant portrayal of a young woman forced to suddenly grow up and see the world as it is, not as she wants it to be.Burke has talked about the research she did to make the setting as historically accurate as possible By making Zora Neale Hurston, who was indeed studying anthropology at Barnard in 1926, and well known black numbers boss Madame Stephanie St Clair and her enforcer Bumpy Johnson, characters in the novel, Burke both enhances the realism and gives us a rich perspective on urban black life in the 1920s in America.I want to talk a bit about how reading this book affected me as a white woman As I ve mentioned above, Jaz Idewell is intelligent, courageous, caring, a bit inclined to jump to conclusions and charge right into situations, andthan a bit naive She s flawed which makes her human but she s interesting and admirable, which makes her a great character, and one that I found very easy to identify with But the world that Jaz lives in is a world full of both casually personal and crushingly systemic racism and sexism, and to the best of my knowledge, Burke doesn t sugarcoat it So as a white reader or at least, this white reader proceeds through the book, identifying with Jaz, and getting a second hand look at the treatment Jax receives as a black woman, everything from the daily microaggressions to the huge and heart breaking events of intentional cruelty, there s a buildup of resentment, frustration and rage This is something that I ve experienced before, this fierce and honest generosity on the part of an author that allows me to see, at a remove but still from the inside, a form of oppression that s not something I experience myself I ve seen it in the work of Walter Mosley, Octavia Butler, Toni Morrison, Thomas King, Leslie Feinberg, and others And I do believe that Burke intended this for her white audience, and I hope others will embrace this as I have tried to, as a gift of sharing experience and a path to understanding Strange Crimes in Little Africa works on many levels, as a mystery, as a rite of passage narrative, as an introduction to a vibrant place and tine in American history, and as a meditation on what it was and still is like to be a black woman in America And it s clear that Burke has at least one sequel in mind [ FREE PDF ] ⚇ The Strange Crimes of Little Africa ♾ The Strange Crimes of Little Africa is a historical mystery and follows Jaz Idawell on the vibrant, culturally fertile streets of art and literature in thes Harlem Renaissance Idawell, an anthropology student, stumbles upon the realization that she may have to sacrifice her cousin s freedom when she discovers evidence that her father, the first black traffic cop on the force, may be guilty of murder Best friends with the indelible Zora Neal Hurston, the two women set out to find the truth about their wonderful world of Little Africa Harlem, New York I had only read, well listened, to one other thing by Burke before this one It was a short story called I Make People Do Bad Things I loved the setting during the Harlem Renaissance with a paranormal feel.She revisits this scenario with her novel here Jaz is the type of heroine I like she makes her mistakes, takes her lumps and finds a way to prevail As the title suggests, the book is set during Harlem s heyday and that atmosphere of a thriving Black community surrounded by outside forces I had only read, well listened, to one other thing by Burke before this one It was a short story called I Make People Do Bad Things I loved the setting during the Harlem Renaissance with a paranormal feel.She revisits this scenario with her novel here Jaz is the type of heroine I like she makes her mistakes, takes her lumps and finds a way to prevail As the title suggests, the book is set during Harlem s heyday and that atmosphere of a thriving Black community surrounded by outside forces that still dictate its goings on.In this case, Jaz becomes involved in a case that escalates right before her eyes and implicates her own family members Initially hired by the dean of her school to investigate who is blackmailing him, she finds herself investigating a murder that occurred when she was still a child She almost immediately recognizes the victim as her uncle who disappeared Unfortunately, she implicates her cousin and he is arrested as a suspect That s when Jaz vows to find out who is really behind the murder.There is also a paranormal element to the story as Jaz occasionally sees the spirit of her dead mother who sometimes guides Jaz but often irritates her Fortunately, Burke incorporates this element naturally and easily without forcing it to make it fit into a paranormal category In other words, the supernatural element fits.Burke s style reminds me of the days when Walter Mosley was my favorite writer with his first Easy Rawlins stories She develops a solid whodunit with all the cultural nuances and flavor of Harlem when it was the country s Black Mecca.However, I think one of the things I enjoyed most about this one is how Burke incorporates real life figures, particularly Zora Neale Hurston and Bumpy Johnson She brings Hurston s spirit to the story while maintaining her own unique voice and style This was a beautiful way to pay homage to Hurston, especially in a time whenBlack women and girls continue to discover Hurston s own writing Perhaps this is also why the paranormal aspect of Burke s story works so well.Overall, this was a great read with a satisfactory ending This was a very enjoyable read, and I highly recommend it if you love detective stories especially noire The book engages openly and honestly with police corruption and race relations in 1920s Harlem, and the story is absolutely stronger for that Lots of excitement and mystery throughout, and the story is thrilling right to the end.As a note the book is in need of a copy editor, so if word choice and grammatical errors affect your enjoyment of a book, be aware going in that they will occur This was a very enjoyable read, and I highly recommend it if you love detective stories especially noire The book engages openly and honestly with police corruption and race relations in 1920s Harlem, and the story is absolutely stronger for that Lots of excitement and mystery throughout, and the story is thrilling right to the end.As a note the book is in need of a copy editor, so if word choice and grammatical errors affect your enjoyment of a book, be aware going in that they will occur intermittently, but I d encourage you to read the book regardless, because the story that Burke tells is well worth the read Though some minor layout issues and spelling errors kept knocking me out of the story, it was a real treat to step into Harlem of the 1920s and follow Ida as she investigates a thorny and personal mystery Lots of familiar names of the period, enough that I also stopped every few pages to refresh my memory of some of the historical significance If this is going to be a series, I ll definitely read. After her exellent collection LET S PLAY WHITE, this is not the book I expected, but I really enjoyed it even though it is not the kind of book I normally read Would love to seeof Jaz Highly recommended. A striking and thought provoking debut from Chesya Burke.