Sold in a 6-figure pre-empt, Jumata Emill’s debut is at once a fast-paced and ingenious thriller, as well as being an exploration of white privilege, systemic racism—brimming with small-town secrets, Southern Gothic atmosphere, and twists galore. Perfect for fans of White Rabbit and One of Us is Lying.
THE BLACK QUEEN
by Jumata Emill
Delacorte, February 2023
(via Writers House)
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, 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 face the fact that the main suspect is right in front of his face. Duchess is convinced 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: falling behind the blue line. That could mean the white girl is going to walk free.
Duchess is determined to prove Tinsley’s guilt. And to do that, she’ll have to get close to her. Only Tinsley has an agenda, too. Everyone loved Nova. And sometimes, love is exactly what gets you killed.
Jumata Emill is an award-winning Louisiana journalist who has covered crime and local politics in towns that share stark similarities to the one he created for this book. He’s a recent alum of the 2018 Pitch Wars mentee class and member of the Crime Writers of Color.