My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
Title: The Black Queen
Author: Jumata Emill
Format: eBook (NetGalley)
Publication Date: 1/31/23
Publisher: Writers House
Categories: Contemporary, Murder Mystery, Suspense, LGBT+
Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**
Thank you to Writers House for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!
Nova Albright was going to be the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High—but now she’s dead. Murdered on coronation night. Fans of One of Us Is Lying and The Other Black Girl will love this unputdownable thriller.
Nova Albright, the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High, is dead. Murdered the night of her coronation, her body found the next morning in the old slave cemetery she spent her weekends rehabilitating.
Tinsley McArthur was supposed to be queen. Not only is she beautiful, wealthy, and white, it’s her legacy—her grandmother, her mother, and even her sister wore the crown before her. Everyone in Lovett knows Tinsley would do anything to carry on the McArthur tradition.
No one is more certain of that than Duchess Simmons, Nova’s best friend. Duchess’s father is the first Black police captain in Lovett. For Duchess, Nova’s crown was more than just a win for Nova. It was a win for all the Black kids. Now her best friend is dead, and her father won’t fact the fact that the main suspect is right in front of him. Duchess is convinced that Tinsley killed Nova—and that Tinsley is privileged enough to think she can get away with it. But Duchess’s father seems to be doing what he always does: fall behind the blue line. Which means that the white girl is going to walk.
Duchess is determined to prove Tinsley’s guilt. And to do that, she’ll have to get close to her.
But Tinsley has an agenda, too.
Everyone loved Nova. And sometimes, love is exactly what gets you killed.
Content Warning: racism, mention of child sexual abuse, violence, inappropriate relationship between student/teacher
I thought the synopsis for this book was very intriguing and I was in the mood for a murder mystery so this was great. This is what I thought:
+ I like the dual perspective of this story. There is Duchess who is Nova’s best friend and who gives us a lot of insight into her after Nova is murdered. On the other end is Tinsley, who is the popular girl vying for Homecoming Queen against Nova. There is animosity between Nova and Tinsley before Nova is murdered and Tinsley is the number one suspect.
+ Duchess has an interesting history with Tinsley but I like how they work together to figure out who really killed Nova. They aren’t exactly friends but I like that they both come to an understanding. Now Duchess and Nova are best friends and we see that in the beginning – but did Duchess really know Nova’s secrets? I found it interesting how the investigation into Nova’s death exposes some things about their friendship that Duchess has to face.
+ There are some heavy themes throughout the story such as child sexual abuse, family secrets, the undercurrents of racism happening with another murder case happening in town, but I thought it was interesting how it was woven into the story. Tinsley is white, privileged and said hateful things about Nova to Nova’s face and to others making her suspect number one. But I did like that she eventually open her eyes to some things, and wants to make an effort to change.
+ I let this story take me for a ride. I had lots of suspicions and of course one of them is the killer, but I think the story got better and better the more each secret was revealed. There are a lot of clues throughout the story, but I still like how we get to examine all the different suspects.
~ Tinsley is an unlikable character but she’s also interesting. She’s basically trying to clear her name but then finds out some secrets and has to figure out what it means for her. If you think she’s going to change much – you’ll be disappointed. But I also think it’s realistic and at least she brings up wanting to learn by the end. She was not going to change overnight.
Why you should read it:
- you like murder mysteries
- it’s dark and twisty and touches on racial issues in a southern town
Why you might not want to read it:
- might be a bit predictable – but I thought it was fun examining all the suspects
- Tinsley is not very likable
I enjoyed this one especially in the second half of the book where there are twists in the story. I think the characters were done well, especially Tinsley (who is very unlikable) and Duchess, and how despite their differences they both help one another to help solve Nova’s murder. I like that there were a lot of suspicious characters in this story and it had a dramatic ending. I definitely want to read more from this debut author!