Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones get personally involved in a gang dispute in The Real Cool Killers, one of the most provocative cases in Chester Himes’s groundbreaking Harlem Detectives series.
Many people had reasons for killing Ulysses Galen, a big Greek with too much money and too great a liking for young black girls. But there are complications—like Sonny, found standing over the body, high on hash, with a gun in his hand that fires only blanks; a gang called the Moslems; a disappearing suspect; and the fact that Coffin Ed’s daughter is up to her pretty little neck in the whole explosive business.
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.
“The action is slapstick, preposterously violent—Hieronymus Bosch meets Miles Davis.”
—Walter Kirn, The New York Times
“One of the most important American writers of the 20th century. . . . A quirky American genius.”
“For sheer toughness it’s hard to beat the black detectives Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones. Himes never received the recognition he deserved for his books—they combine elements of George V. Higgins, Elmore Leonard, and Richard Stark, with a bleak vision all their own.”
—The Washington Post
“Himes’s Harlem detective series . . . are remarkable for their macabre comic sense and wicked and nasty wit.”
—Ishmael Reed, Los Angeles Times