The Mayor of Maxwell Street

Hyperion. Jan. 2024. 528p. ISBN 9781368093002. $27.99. F
DEBUT A wealthy Black debutante, Nelly Sawyer longs to make her mark in investigative journalism in 1920s Chicago, especially after her brother dies. She finds high society stifling and wants to make a real impact, especially for other Black people. So when the editor of the Defender asks her to do an investigative article on the elusive crime kingpin known as the Mayor of Maxwell Street, she throws herself into the project, heedless of the danger. Nelly enlists the help of Jay Shorey, a biracial speakeasy manager, who serves as her introduction to all of the dangers of Chicago in the 1920s—the Mafia, politicians, and life under Jim Crow segregation. Meanwhile, Nelly is being courted by a man of means who could give her a life of ease and leisure. Is the danger of searching for the Mayor of Maxwell Street worth the risk?
VERDICT Debut author Cunningham fills this page-turner with plenty of twists and turns that will keep readers guessing. The author does include sensitivity warnings for era-appropriate racial terminology used in the book.
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