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The Big Gold Dream (Harlem Cycle #4) (Harlem Cycle #4)

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  141 ratings  ·  18 reviews
After arriving on the American literary scene with novels of scathing social protest like If He Hollers Let Him Go and The Lonely Crusade, Chester Himes created a pioneering pair of dangerously effective African-American sleuths, Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson, Harlem’s toughest detective duo, who must carry the day against an absurdist ...more
Paperback, 156 pages
Published September 17th 2008 by Pegasus (first published 1959)
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Richard Vialet
Since absolutely loving Chester Himes's first two books in his Harlem Cycle, A Rage in Harlem and The Real Cool Killers, it's sad that the next three books that I read in the cycle have gotten progressively worse. Himes's writing is always assured and fun to read. But while both Rage and Killers feel fresh and alive and filled with memorable characters, this novel feels uninspired and was frankly boring, as if Himes was phoning it in by this time with more of the same formula. After Alberta Whit ...more
Chester Himes was positioned as the black heir to Raymond Chandler's throne as far as I can tell. His "honest" hard-boiled representations of black life in Harlem are what made his name in the crime genre and you either "get" what he does or you don't. This 6th entry in to his Harlem Cycle follows pretty much the same structure as his first - Rage In Harlem - inept people running round trying to rip each other off and come out on top whilst Coffin Ed and Grave Digger Jones amble around talking t ...more
In the comically grotesque opening to Chester Himes' The Big Gold Dream (1960), Alberta Wright, a buxom, simple-minded, stubborn "kitchen slave" for white folks, has just got religion. With her lay-about lover Sugar Stonewall, she attends a Harlem revival meeting presided over by Sweet Prophet Brown (who possesses "the nimble wits of a confidence man and the nerve of a bank robber"). There she is baptized by the fire hoses of Sweet Prophet's deacons and testifies about her wonderful dream in whi ...more
Third-string Himes. Yeah, I said it. More chase scenes than a shitty old Western movie (boring me to death), trite racist stereotypes that would make Max Fleischer blush and no cross-dressing thugs this time. As good as Raymond Chandler? You've gotta be joking.
Another taut mystery steeped in the vibrant culture of Harlem circa 1960. If you want to know what was happening uptown in the Mad Men era, this book will take you there. Chet Himes makes his writing seem effortless, the books are funny, outrageous, and, though they were written as dime store novels, they have depth. In The Big Gold Dream, the 5th of the series, his plot gives him a chance to make observations about religion as Sweet Prophet Brown both serves and exploits his congregation. The f ...more
Lil' Grogan
After everyone gave their version, I'm still not sure I got the events right...

The story centres around Alberta Wright, who collapses on the street during her baptism. Dead bodies start piling up, and life ones dance around each other. Coffin and Grave Digger drop by for a couple of cameos, but the main action is among the different men trying to beat each other to Alberta's money. The satire from previous books is there (taking on religion, social dynamics) but I didn't find it as sharp. Loved
The crime fighting of Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones continues. This one starts out with a street baptism. The church of Sweet Prophet is converting local residents when one of them drops dead after hitting the numbers in the local gambling houses. The search is on by the local hoodlums to find the cash, but not before there are more killings, thefts, and betrayals. Only Coffin Ed and Gravedigger can get to the bottom of this one.
Excellent, fast-moving, engrossing, surprising hard-boiled detective novel. Truly chilling scene in the dark in a warehouse full of stolen/broken furniture, with two people trying to kill one another over a hidden $100,000. I hope they're all like this.
Juan Jiménez García
Chester Himes. Negro come negro

Hay que decirlo: la novela social de nuestro tiempo (entendido de una manera muy amplia) fue la novela negra. Nadie como el noir supo captar el aire de una época (épocas). El aire viciado, cierto, oscuro y pesado, pero visto retrospectivamente y aún en la actualidad, la corrupción , la violencia, las desigualdades sociales (de clase, de color), las pasiones sencillas pero rotundas, las miserias humanas, lo han atravesado todo. Y su reflejo se encuentra ahí, en ese
Rob Kitchin
The Big Gold Dream is the fourth book in the Coffin Ed and Grave Digger series. The strongest element of the story is the sense of place and contextualisation as to life and hustles in Harlem in the 1950s. However, the characterisation is wafer thin, with next to no back story with respect to any of the various characters, and the two lead detectives hardly feature at all. What keeps the story together is the plot and pace. Himes keeps the action moving along in a reasonably convoluted tale abou ...more
I guess you need to be used to Chester Himes' style. The plot was too confusing, the setting and characters crudely drawn (especially the part where marijuana cigarettes were a sign of unadulterated evil).
I first read this and the rest of the Harlem cycle (along with Himes' other novels) back in the early 90s. (Just now realizing: That's 20 years ago! Trite sayings concerning the swiftness of time's passage cannot capture my astonishment.) This time through, I'm paying attention to the mechanics of Himes' particularly vivid hard-boiled prose.
Kit Fox
Personally, I could've gone for more Grave Digger and Coffin Ed action, but I still had a good time nonetheless. Also, and with Vishnu as my witness, I swear that one day I'm gonna adopt a pair of miniature dachshunds and name one Coffin Ed and the other Grave Digger Jones. I think it's something the world truly needs.
I'm a big fan of Chester Himes, but his books always go down like crap through a goose. You tend to forget who actually committed the crime, but the environs of early 60's Harlem stick with you, making you wish the plot was as memorable.
Gonzalo Oyanedel
La miseria y la ilusión como motor de un policial sucio, de construcción laboriosa y certero en retratar en pocas pinceladas el trance de los barrios marginales. Gran revisión al género de Chester Himes.
Eric Stone
Good Himes, if not the best Himes. Great characters and atmosphere, deals with social issues in a fun and intelligent manner. Himes is always a good read.
Least enjoyable of Himes' Harlem Cycle to date. I couldn't track most of the plot, the main woman is an idiot, and bonus anti-Semitism to boot.
A good & entertaining Chester Himes Harlem novel...
Angelene Anderson
Angelene Anderson marked it as to-read
Aug 25, 2015
Whitley Gilbert-webb
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Ade Oluyemisi marked it as to-read
May 09, 2015
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Chester Bomar Himes began writing in the early 1930s while serving a prison sentence for armed robbery. From there, he produced short stories for periodicals such as Esquire and Abbott's Monthly. When released, he focussed on semi-autobiographical protest novels.

In 1953, Himes emigrated to France, where he was approached by Marcel Duhamel of Gallimard to write a detective series for Série Noire,
More about Chester Himes...

Other Books in the Series

Harlem Cycle (9 books)
  • A Rage in Harlem
  • The Real Cool Killers (Harlem Cycle, #2)
  • The Crazy Kill (Harlem Cycle, #3)
  • All Shot Up (Harlem Cycle, #5)
  • The Heat's On (Harlem Cycle, #6)
  • Cotton Comes to Harlem (Harlem Cycle, #7)
  • Blind Man with a Pistol (Harlem Cycle, #8)
  • Plan B (Harlem Cycle, #9)
A Rage in Harlem If He Hollers Let Him Go Cotton Comes to Harlem (Harlem Cycle, #7) The Real Cool Killers (Harlem Cycle, #2) Blind Man with a Pistol (Harlem Cycle, #8)

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