Gone Missing in Harlem by Karla F. C. Holloway is her highly anticipated second novel, from her In Harlem series. This book is set against the backdrop of the real and infamous Charles Lindbergh kidnapping and murder case of the 1930s. In Gone Missing in Harlem, the child in question is a baby girl called Chloe. Unlike the Lindbergh case, however Chloe’s disappearance doesn’t garner as much attention. It’s left to the Weldon Haynie Thomas, the city’s first Black policeman to investigate the disappearance.
As with many Black families in the United States, the Mosbys moved to Harlem from the South as part of the Great Migration in order to get a better life. This better life is shattered by the confrontation Lilah Mosby has with her wealthy white employers the Thayers following the rape of her daughter Selma by their son, Edward Thayer Jr.
Rape is a common occurrence for Black domestic staff, by their white employers. This isn’t dwelled on in a laboured manner, but rather matter of fact – which is truly appreciated. The sexual exploitation of women in literature can often be quite gratuitous, but here it was more a case a blink and you’ll miss it affair.
“Sweetheart. For womens like us that a story’s old as our days. We don’t never get no kind of say when that happens. We just got to deal with the grief we get… if we can.”Gone Missing in Harlem by Karla F. C. Holloway
Gone Missing in Harlem provides social commentary on how people react to crimes when taking into account race and class. It explored how these factors would determine the public response to a missing child. One can garner sympathy whilst the other will lead to judgement and finger pointing, as assumptions are made about one’s circumstances.
The book is beautifully written, and if you are a fan of the crime mystery novel, this will be a great addition to your book collection. It does use archaic terms eg perambulator and goodly which is in keeping with the times it is set in. I enjoyed the book and would give it a solid 4/5.
***Thank you Netgalley and Northwestern University Press for this advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
For the purposes of my reading challenges, this book fulfils the book set about or during the Harlem Renaissance, which is part of the Black Girls Read Too Challenge, and for the Popsugar challenge a book featuring three generations (grandparent, parent, child).
Gone Missing in Harlem by Karla F.C. Holloway is available from April 30 from all your usual retailers.