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A Rage in Harlem (Vintage Crime)by Chester B. Himes
Set in 1920s Harlem, A Rage in Harlem is the story of what a man will do for a woman, and the extreme lengths to which people will go for money. It is at once both hilarious and surreal, a story full of con men, coolness, and chaos, and littered with unforgettable characters like Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed. The plot is driven by the ineptness and naivety of the main character, Jackson. It is that same ineptness that gets him out of as much trouble as it gets him into. A Rage in Harlem is a good step toward discovering the literary genius that is Chester Himes.
Synopses & Reviews
A Rage in Harlem is a ripping introduction to Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones, patrolling New York City’s roughest streets in Chester Himes’s groundbreaking Harlem Detectives series.
For love of fine, wily Imabelle, hapless Jackson surrenders his life savings to a con man who knows the secret of turning ten-dollar bills into hundreds—and then he steals from his boss, only to lose the stolen money at a craps table. Luckily for him, he can turn to his savvy twin brother, Goldy, who earns a living—disguised as a Sister of Mercy—by selling tickets to Heaven in Harlem. With Goldy on his side, Jackson is ready for payback.
"Himes undertook to do for Harlem what Raymond Chandler did for Los Angeles." Newsweek
"Himes wrote spectacularly successful entertainments, filled with gems of descriptive writing, plots that barely sidestep chaos, characters surreal, grotesque, comic, hip, Harlem recollected as a place that can make you laugh, cry, shudder." John Edgar Wideman
"Chester Himes is one of the towering figures of the black literary tradition. His command of nuances of character and dynamics of plot is preeminent among writers of crime fiction. He is a master craftsman." Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
For the love of fine and wily Imabelle, hapless Jackson loses his life savings to a con man who knows the secret of turning ten-dollar bills into hundreds and steals from his boss, only to lose the stolen money at a crap table. Luckily for him, Jackson has a savvy twin brother, Goldy, who, disguised as a Sister of Mercy, earns a living by selling tickets to Heaven in Harlem. Now for the big payback...
About the Author
Chester (Bomar) Himes began his writing career while serving in the Ohio State Penitentiary for armed robbery from 1929 - 1936. His account of the horrific 1930 Penitentiary fire that killed over three hundred men appeared in Esquire in 1932 and from this Himes was able to get other work published. From his first novel, If He Hollers Let Him Go (1945), Himes dealt with the social and psychological repercussions of being black in a white-dominated society. Beginning in 1953, Himes moved to Europe, where he lived as an expatriate in France and Spain. There, he met and was strongly influenced by Richard Wright. It was in France that he began his best-known series of crime novels — including Cotton Comes to Harlem (1965) and Run Man Run (1966) — featuring two Harlem policemen Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson. As with Himes's earlier work, the series is characterized by violence and grisly, sardonic humor.
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