Harlem Unbound is one of those games that you pick up, and don't put down because it's just that good of a read! It reminded me a lot of the high-quality setting development, research, and writing that I found in GURPS supplements.
Chris Spivey takes you into the Harlem Renaissance and shares a rich part of America's history in a truly interesting and exciting way. Then, he carefully weaves the Cthulhu mythos into it. He provides you with everything you need to play a Gumshoe game in this era. You'll find story hooks, scenarios, supporting casts, and 2 beefy scenarios.
One of the most important things about this book, however, is its subject matter. As Mr. Spivey points out right away in the Introduction, Harlem Unbound doesn't pull any punches when it comes dealing with racism. At first, this may make you reconsider purchasing, or playing in this setting. However, the setting outlined here is so rich, and lends itself so well to the Mythos, that passing it by would be a mistake.
Mr. Spivey writes:
"No, we can’t truly know what it was to live during the Harlem Renaissance. And no, white people can never really understand the impact of insidious racism. But we’re gamers. We embrace the idea of living different lives through play—and each time we do, we learn something new. If we’re lucky, we reach a better understanding of people different from ourselves, and learn to empathize with the “other.” I tried to write the book in such a way that it would be approachable to all gamers, but respectful of the truth of history and racism without making a mockery of the pain and perseverance of so many people."
Spivey goes on to address roleplaying in this setting, and handling racism and other social issues in your game, in the "Storytelling" chapter.
Ultimately, this is a great book, with a great setting that you should add to your library. Whether you love Gumshoe, the Cthulhu Mythos, or are looking for a setting that hasn't been done before, then this is the book for you.
So, make your way down to Harlem, and watch out for anything in the shadows.
[5 of 5 Stars!]