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Black Orchid Blues Paperback – March 22, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
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. (Apr.)
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"The best kind of historical mystery: good history, good mystery, all wrapped up in a voice so authentic, you feel it has come out of the past to whisper in your ear."
"Put a Bessie Smith platter on the Victrola, and go with the flow on this mystery/romance/history mix. You just might like it." --Library Journal
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Top customer reviews
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Persia Walker writes professionally about Queenie and Junior's slide from one person to the other Their need to survive is almost magical. Most events are told through the eyes of the crime reporter, Lanie. I really like Lanie. She has a heart and high morals and of course, she's a whiz at her work.
When I thought Persia Walker had taken me further than I wanted to go or thought she could take me, she took me five more steps. By the end of the novel, my mind was completely blown by those who murder in rage, by those who are innocent victims to the lusts and desires of other people and the power of the mind to think of ways to survive and live through horrendous events. The story is told simply with no frills. Therefore, there is a great deal of violence. Thankfully, there are no judgments. Certainly none are made by Lanie. Her strongest desire is to see the killing stop, end, finish. I am anxious to meet Lanie again under different circumstances. persiawalker.com/books/black-orchid-blues/ AKASHIC
The story is about a drag queen's disappearance and a detective's plan to find out Whodunit. It all takes place in Harlem, and Walker's descriptions make it feel like you are really there.
The end contains strong sexual/disturbing content and graphic violence. I wasn't expecting this because another of Walker's books (Harlem Redux) was pretty tame. I like to read things with cleaner content, so I didn't like that aspect of Black Orchid Blues either. I am giving two stars because the story was good enough (until the end) to make me overlook that and read it all anyway.
What I loved most about "Black Orchid Blues" is the history lesson interspersed throughout the fictional story. I found myself walking the streets of Harlem, peeping into the lives of the characters who lived on Striver's Row; who frequented the not-so-sedate parties given by Harlem socialites; who attended the wild affairs at Harlem's clubs and ballrooms; and who hobnobbed with real Harlem Renaissance notables like Langston Hughes. Walker also gives readers, more than a glimpse into Harlem's underworld of criminal, racial unrest and social injustices, underscored by the white folks who flock to Harlem to experience what they can not or dare not, in Manhattan or on Long Island.
All of this creates the backdrop for Walker's heroine, Lanie Price, a journalist with a keen eye for recognizing and "digging up the dirt," often putting herself in danger to get and write her stories. Lanie has not lost the edge she had as a crime reporter, who supposedly now writes a society column. In "Black Orchid Blues," she is drawn into a criminal plot to extort money after a deadly and vicious kidnapping of a flamboyant Harlem entertainer, Queenie Lovetree--the Black Orchid. That's the beginning of the story; what comes afterward had me sitting up till early morning to find out what happens to colorful characters that inhabit the pages of "Black Orchid Blues."
Most recent customer reviews
The story kept me riveted.
Whatever books Ms. Walker writes, I will read.