A drug panic. Murder. Terrifying and mysterious black and Chinese immigrants. Dope Kings. Jazz. War. An actress dead of an overdose. "Dope Girls" is about the transformation of drug use into a national menace. It revolves around the death in 1918, in the last furious stages of World War I, of Billie Carleton, a West End musical actress. Its cast of characters includes Brilliant Chang, a Chinese restaurant proprietor, and Edgar Manning, a jazz drummer from Jamaica. Around them in the streets off Shaftesbury Avenue and in Chinatown swirled a raffish group of seedy and rebellious hedonists. The drug problem was born, amid a gush of exotic tabloid detail.
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