Cotton Comes to Harlem (Harlem Cycle, #7)
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Cotton Comes to Harlem (Harlem Cycle #7)

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  620 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Deke O'Hara is no sooner out of Atlanta 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 Harlem rally producing a big collection - for his own private charity. But the take is hijacked by white gunmen and hidden in a bale of cotton that suddenly everybody wants to get their hands...more
Hardcover, 159 pages
Published 1965 by Allison & Busby (first published 1964)
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Ben Winch
Chester Himes is the bomb, he's the shit, he's a genius. You're into crime and you ain't read him, you're missing out. You're into the African-American experience and you ain't read him, you're really missing out. You think some lowly thriller-writer's beneath you? Chester Himes can write. The style is half the fun: baroque hip gritty black humour ramped up to eleven in the service of thrills and satire. Check this:
With a flourish like a stripteaser removing her G-string, she took off one shoe a
Jun 23, 2011 Andy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Adam West & Andre Williams
Recommended to Andy by: The Dealer, The Peeler & The Stealer
Shelves: hardboiled-dicks
Another manic cartoony excercise in eyeball-popping, jaw-dropping Tex Avery psychosis. This time our favorite badass behemoths Coffin Ed and Grave Digger Jones step in between two huckster ops in old Harlem, Back to Africa (black) and Back to The South (white), the BS group led by a fake Southern plantation colonel type. Avoid the lousy movie adaptation at all costs and pick up some solid pulp, my brother.
Srinivas Prasad Veeraraghavan
Magic is a hugely abused word and can be as elusive as a loutish runt, trying to lose himself in a Mardi Gras crowd.

Very rarely, it manifests itself in some obscure form or the other. Himes wrote some ground-breakin',spine tinglin',nerve janglin' classics but here, he reaches the zenith.

GOD (He is black by the way) decided to put pen to paper one day and this macabre,bawdy,freak Masterpiece was the result.

If ever I dream of writing a novel, I only pray to GOD (That nigga again!) that it turns ou...more
Mother-raping cinematic.
Himes strikes an electrifying balance between anger, humour and pulp thrills in 'Cotton Comes to Harlem'.

There's a genuine fury present in this book, but it very rarely manifests itself in a didactic way. The characters are slightly cartoonish, but this serves the heightened tone of the book perfectly and throws the moments of pathos into sharp relief.

The book's main character is argubly Harlem itself, as Himes will often have the book's lucidly realised supporting cast offer interjections upon...more
Robbie Bruens
Cotton Comes to Harlem, is an enjoyable and fast-paced detective thriller that reads almost like a screenplay due to its taut plotting, constant action, and a near constant focus on visuality. Of course, Himes does not sacrifice any of his sharp perspective the racial politics of America in the mid-twentieth century in service of genre approachability, though he takes a more vaudevillian, high entertainment approach when compared to the seething psychology of If He Hollers Let Him Go. For the re...more
Mariano Hortal
Publicada en

Con la ingente cantidad de novelas policíacas que se están sacando en la actualidad, tendemos a olvidar de dónde venimos; es decir, quiénes son los padres del género; este post busca que no se pierda la perspectiva en este aspecto, entre otras cosas porque un buen gusto literario se construye desde el pasado, desde las verdaderas fuentes originales.
Y digo esto porque no puedo evitar enervarme al comprobar el montón de medianías que se hacen co...more
Chester Himes once again mines the street life of mid century Harlem for the setting in which to unspool a great thriller. Like all writers who endure beyond their time, Himes' observations are about human traits, frailty and strength, greed and generosity, here emerging from the crucible of poverty and violence. His writing is gripping, eloquent and funny. Himes captures a moment and renders it immortal as he conveys the moment and puts us there.

Here is how he describes the music at a the Cott...more
With the creation of his big city black detectives, Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones, Chester Himes achieved something singular and grand. Hard boiled genre fiction was nothing new in the 1950’s, but populating a landscape with sharply detailed black characters was new and still reads fresh today half a century later. The detectives work for a police department mostly at odds with the community they serve and serve a community distrustful of the department that they work for. Often this p...more
Another slick entry in Himes' Harlem cycle. Coffin Ed and Gravedigger Jones investigate the theft of $87,000 from a "Back-to-Africa" organization and discover white racists, black hustlers, a murderous gun moll and her lesbian squeeze, and all the other types of high-living lowlifes we've come to expect from this master of noir in the darkest shade of black.

Himes' characters hop off the page (and into your lap in a couple of cases) and his dialog is tough, believable and laced with larcenous hum...more
This book takes place 6 years after the first, Rage in Harlem. The tone is more militant than the past ones have been and confronts racism in a more direct manner, as shown through the Back to Africa movement & the Back to the South movement. Although it's usually easy to see who the "bad guys" are, here we have a Colonel Sanders look-alike who want to take the blacks from Harlem to work the cotton fields of the South again; and the Back-to-Africa movement leader who is scamming working-clas...more
Marty Babits
As is often the case, the book is much better than the movie. The book highlights absurdity and comic verve rolled into a hair-brained, get-rich-quick Ponzi scheme that takes all manner of unpredictable twists and turns.
Lil' Grogan
Himes is the kind of writer who I suspect that while making his readers laugh was also having his laugh at us. It's not often that an author can make me laugh while equally tickled, offended and sad. It's possible that it's actually getting more painful reading Himes. Not sure how else to describe this...this beauty and poetry in violence and struggle. Maybe it hurts so much because it's about race and poverty. Maybe it's simply absurd truth. I don't know, but I'm in damned awe.

The reductionist...more
This was a time trip to read. Dial back to the early 1960's and think about what is being told and how dialog is depicted. This sort book was recommended to the book club. The book tells the story of two Harlem detectives and the craziness of criminals creating and implementing a fraudulent plan for fleecing citizens by offering the chance to move back to Africa. I believe I saw the movie of this many years ago and now I want to rent it to see if it compares at all to the book.
Beautiful, a pure genre classic of hard boiled detective. Colorful location (Harlem), colorful characters - and not just for skin colors. Minimalist, yet the people, and what they say, and what happens, is with humor and surrealism. This book was first published in 1965, and it's interesting also for showing the social side of races and planes. Reads nearly like a screenplay. First it's a classic, hard boiled detective, second it's all of those other things.
A better work than the previous Himes book I read, A Rage in Harlem, if only because Grave Digger and Coffin Ed have developed into slightly more fully fleshed characters than they were in that earlier book. (Though occasionally they still come across as caricatures of tough-guy characters.)

The book's biggest flaw is something that is not uncommon of crime and detective books of a certain age, that being its treatment and depiction of female characters.
Michael Borshuk
Himes is a master, steeped in the expectations of the hard-boiled genre, but delightfully surreal and darkly comic in his extension of them as well. This caper juxtaposes some pretty heady contexts: the violent memory of American slavery against the aspirations of urban African Americans looking to reclaim the home from which they were severed amidst the Middle Passage. Dazzling prose, and tough, at times frighteningly brutal, writing throughout.
Clay Nichols
A genre classic in all ways. I especially love it when the crime is referred to as "a caper" by the detectives.

Although Gravedigger and Coffin Ed have undoubtedly inspired many African-American cop characters (Shaft being a direct descendant), they might not pass a current graduate student's PC-o-meter. Taken in historical context, this book is progressive, entertaining, hilarious, violent and very, very cool.

Check it out, Daddy-O.
This was terrific. i read an earlier one, The Real Cool Killers, and am not a detective fiction guy, but loved the subplot of Nation of Islam. This one has a mid sixties "Back to Africa" thing, which is good, but the barely contained respect/tension between black detectives and white lieutenant still resonates in these days of Trayvon Martin. Also need to find a copy of the movie - black cinema before it descended to blaxploitation.
Part of me wanted to give this book four stars, but that seemed too high; conversely, three stars seems too low.

Terrific gritty crime fiction with memorable characters, written by a master of the genre. My only quibble is that some parts were overwrought and maybe even overwritten, although there were spare, to-the-bones segments that conjured classic noir. Taken as a whole, Cotton Comes to Harlem is well worth a spin.
If you love great detective fiction and are interested in exploring the work of the first great Black detective novelist, you want to read this book: it's almost Joycean in its language play, ingenious in its plot, and truly voiced in a manner that Chandler would admire. Good, good stuff.
Nick Morris
Loved it. This is a wonderful read. Full of colour and theatre it has a strong plot with some wickedly funny moments. Have greedily ordered the next in the series. It's not a long book but it's packed with drama and I strongly recommend anyone to get a hold of a copy!
Precious Williams
I'm thrilled! Read this book when I was a child and have since lost that copy. It's out of print in the UK so it's proven very hard to find but then today I found a copy in my favourite bookshop. Yay!
Interesting crime fiction that describes the work of two detectives, Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones, in pursuit of a flim-flam man who's recently released from the pen with plans of a big scam.
Story of two black detectives in Harlem chasing after the bad guys who stole 87 families' Back-to-Africa downpayments. The read is like going back in time, with the language, cars, clothes, etc.
This is just a fast paced, very well written, full of swagger detetive story set in the 40's. Detectives Cotton Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones are bad dudes and take care of business. Read it.
As disciplined as ever but more frank (less appropriate for school) than other books in the series. Addresses back-to-Africa and "back-to-the-Southland" movements in the context of a noir mystery.
Willie Whelan
Well written, fast paced noir from the mid 1960's. Perhaps not the best book in the series but still should be on the bookshelf of every crime novel enthusiast.
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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
More about Chester Himes...
A Rage in Harlem If He Hollers Let Him Go The Real Cool Killers (Harlem Cycle, #2) Blind Man with a Pistol (Harlem Cycle, #8) The Heat's On (Harlem Cycle, #6)

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