“A murder mystery set among the black bourgeoisie, it is also the heady tale of a bygone era … compelling family intrigue and a full, vibrant portrait of that storied era when Harlem’s pulse was the rhythm of black America.”
—The Boston Globe
It is 1926, the heart of the Roaring Twenties, and Harlem is the place to be. Years after dropping out of Harlem society, David McKay, a handsome lawyer from a prominent Strivers’ Row family, returns home, devastated by the news of his sister’s suicide.
Why did Lilian take her life? Why did she marry a man she barely knew, giving him a claim to the family home? Why did she feel compelled to keep her marriage a secret?
“As much a story of lies, deceit and murder as it is a commentary on race and class, Harlem Redux is filled with colorful characters.”
Burdened by a secret of his own, McKay dares to stay in Harlem to stave off the threat to his family home and answer questions about Lilian’s death. He rediscovers the world of the Harlem Renaissance, a place of suffocating class strictures, seductive patrons, and aristocratic civil rights leaders. His inquiry takes him from the wealthy salons of Renaissance Harlem to the crowded tenements of its poor. He uncovers old loves and festering hatreds.
The deeper he probes, the closer he comes to unleashing forces that threaten to reveal his own crippling secret — one that could destroy or redeem him.
—The New York Daily News
This gripping 1920s murder mystery, taut and lyrical, combining elements of the suspense and hard-boiled genres, evokes the mystique of Harlem’s most fascinating era. Absorbing and powerful, Harlem Redux combines incisive comment on race and class with a tragic tale of unrequited love.
Walker's highly competent murder mystery, set during the Harlem Renaissance, features exotic locales, an odd supporting cast, worthy subplots and a baffling set of clues. At the center of this carefully constructed tale of murder, deception and betrayal is a twisty whodunit based on the efforts of David McKay, a young black attorney from one of Harlem's most respected families, to find out how his level-headed sister Lilian really died. Why would Lilian, a reclusive, conservative, sensible young woman, hang out in dives, hobnob with gangsters and become pregnant before her suspicious suicide? Like a character in a Nero Wolfe caper, David visits Lilian's haunts and quizzes her new friends, unraveling a host of dark secrets about her while also learning about the Harlem art world and nightlife. Walker slyly taunts and teases readers with her shrewdly rendered characters: Gem, the twin sister with a heart of glass; Lilian's husband, Jameson Sweet, a conniving gigolo; Rachel, an old flame of David's; Neila Harding, the bestselling author with a yen for David; and mysterious crime boss Adrian Snyder. Although the ending could have packed a stronger punch, and the prose is overworked in places ("the sun hung low in the sky with a dull, metallic gleam, like a watch dangling from a banker's pocket"), it's entertaining to watch the various pieces of Walker's puzzle come together.