Cotton Comes to Harlem

By Chester B. Himes
(Vintage Books, Paperback, 9780394759999, 159pp.)

Publication Date: November 28, 1988

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Description

A classic entry in Chester Himes’s trailblazing Harlem Detectives series, Cotton Comes to Harlem is one of his hardest-hitting and most entertaining thrillers.
 
Flim-flam man Deke O’Hara is no sooner out of Atlanta’s state penitentiary than he’s back on the streets working the scam of a lifetime. As sponsor of the Back-to-Africa movement, he’s counting on a big Harlem rally to produce a massive collection—for his own private charity. But the take is hijacked by white gunmen and hidden in a bale of cotton that suddenly everyone wants to get his hands on. As NYPD detectives “Coffin Ed” Johnson and “Grave Digger” Jones piece together the complexity of the scheme, we are treated to Himes’s brand of hard-boiled crime fiction at its very best.




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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