The Conjure-Man Dies, by Rudolph Fisher
The Classics Club theme for February just happens to be the Harlem Renaissance (plus more), which gave me a good chance to start working on the challenge I signed up for too. I decided to start with The Conjure-Man Dies, which is a mystery set in early 1930s Harlem.
Dr. John Archer has his medical office across the street from an undertaker and a "psychist" who claims to be able to read faces so well that he can tell you all about yourself and your future. When the conjure-man is murdered in the middle of a reading, Dr. Archer and the NYPD detective assigned to the case, Perry Dart, team up to solve the mystery. Then the corpse disappears from a guarded room and walks in, claiming to have revived himself with his special powers--so the two men will need all their expertise to figure out the puzzle.
I enjoyed this mystery so much! I love a good mystery. Here we have a seriously excellent puzzle and a cast of great characters. Everyone has so much personality; you can practically see and hear them. (Since I sometimes get frustrated by flat, hard-to-differentiate characters in mysteries, I appreciated that.) There is some very fun stuff along with the serious questions; Fisher is playing around a lot.
If you're a mystery person, The Conjure-Man Dies should go on your list to read.
I've also started reading Langston Hughes' Not Without Laughter, which is very good so far, but there is no way I will finish it by the end of the month.