This tale of a singer’s kidnapping in 1920s Harlem is “the best kind of historical mystery” (Lee Child).
Lanie Price, a Harlem society columnist, witnesses the brutal nightclub kidnapping of the “Black Orchid,” a sultry, seductive singer with a mysterious past. When hours pass without a word from the kidnapper, puzzlement grows as to his motive. After a gruesome package arrives at Price’s doorstep, the questions change. Just what does the kidnapper want—and how many people is he willing to kill to get it?
Evil hides behind the genteel facades of affluent Strivers’ Row, and stalks the ballroom of a famous drag party, in this “dark, sexy” mystery set during the Harlem Renaissance (Publishers Weekly).
“Lanie has the makings of a strong series heroine. Walter Mosley fans, in particular, should look for more from this promising crime writer.” —Booklist
“Black Orchid Blues works as a study of class and race, plus the debilitating effects of grief, the question of identity and the far-reaching impact of family secrets . . . Walker has a crystal clear eye for what motivates people as she explores disparity and desperation.” —South Florida Sun-Sentinel
“Put a Bessie Smith platter on the Victrola, and go with the flow on this mystery/romance/history mix.” —Library Journal
In Walker's exuberant third Harlem Renaissance mystery (after 2008's Darkness and the Devil Behind Me), new performing sensation Queenie Lovetree, a six-foot-three drag queen who bills himself as the "Black Orchid," approaches Lanie Price, the Harlem Chronicle's society columnist, at the Cinnamon Club. Queenie wants Lanie to profile him, but a man in a Stetson and trench coat, armed with a tommy gun, interrupts their conversation and forces Queenie to leave the club. Lanie's involvement in the search for Queenie brings her into conflict with her editor, Sam Delaney, and Det. John Blackie and into contact with such diverse denizens of 1920s Harlem as notorious loan shark Stax Murphy and transvestite Jack-a-Lee Talbot. This dark, sexy novel takes readers from the homes of Striver's Row professionals to the Faggots' Ball, Harlem's "largest drag ball of the year," as Lanie struggles to make sense of the kidnapper's increasingly bizarre behavior.