Black 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 the big Harlem rally to produce a big collection - for his own private charity. But the take ($87,000) is hijacked by white gunmen and hidden in a bale of cotton that suddenly everyone wants to get his hands on.
With Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones on everyone's trail and piecing together the complexity of the scheme, Cotton Comes to Harlem (made into a film in 1970) is one of Himes's hardest-hitting and most entertaining thrillers.
"The greatest find in American crime fiction since Raymond Chandler.... These books have lasting value - as thrillers, as streetwise documentaries, as chapters of black writing at its ribald and unaffected best. On every level they are simply - or rather not so simply, terrific." (The Sunday Times, London)
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