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A Negro and an Ofay (The Tales of Elliot Caprice)

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  101 ratings  ·  38 reviews
On the run after killing two crooked cops, Chicago PD Detective Elliot Caprice finds himself in a jailhouse in St. Louis on false charges. He enlists friends from his hometown of Southville, IL to secure his release and returns to find the family farm in foreclosure, and the man who raised him dying in a flophouse.

Desperate for money, he accepts a job from the son of a dea
Paperback, 261 pages
Published May 15th 2017 by Down & Out Books
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Average rating 4.29  · 
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 ·  101 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-books
Absolutely positively a five star read. It is a tough, gritty crime fiction novel set in early fifties Chicago, St. Louis, and Southville. But it's far more than just another mystery novel as it creates a whole world of characters and places.

Elliot Caprice, the lead character, is a light-skinned man of mixed race in a time when that really mattered. As such, he sometimes straddles the line between two worlds. He is part of the Black community, but sometimes he can pass for White. Much of the ac
Oct 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Gardner’s A NEGRO AND AN OFAY captures the corruption and racial unrest of 1950s Chicago with stylish precision. The story opens with disgraced Chicago PD Detective Elliott Caprice in a St. Louis jail. He enlists the help of his buddy George who is now the sheriff of his hometown to bail him out. That’s when his troubles really begin. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say Caprice harbors a shady past that comes back to haunt him.

I have to admit, I normally don’t like third pers
Sam Wiebe
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"It wasn't panic or reflex that guided his hand, but prescience. The same sense that told him the moment he took the gun from the barn, he'd be killing someone with it. He just hadn't expected it would be so soon, and in full view of the jazz-loving public."

Elliot Caprice is the ultimate in-betweener--born to white and black parents, Caprice finds himself operating on both sides of the law, traversing the small town of Southville as well as The Windy City. A WW2 vet betrayed by his friends in la
I enjoyed this a lot, not just because it ticks a lot of my boxes (gangster-related, period piece, vaguely hard-boiled, aware of race), but because it ticks them well. The writing and characterizations possess a complexity that those who turn their noses up at 'genre fiction' don't believe exists in that world (because, you know, they've never looked), and the book's unflinching exploration of race -- told through the eyes of a mixed-race man so light he sometimes passes -- are well-observed, cu ...more
Craig Buck
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Danny Gardner has written a fresh, smart, politically savvy and incorrect noir period piece rife with social injustice, racial nuance, high crimes and misdirections. A next-generation Walter Moseley, his characters are a hoot and a half and his story-telling a runaway train. If you like noir and are looking for a good time, don't miss this book from a budding star.
Richard Yaker
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
Easy read and compelling enough I read it in a single day (Labor day so I had the day off) only putting it down for meals, and a trip to the supermarket. The characters were interesting, and the story was engaging. The social commentary was also of interest to me. Danny is great story teller, his command of english and slang wove a compelling crime drama that drew me in.
Courtney Stricklin
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Characters you believed in, a setting you could visualize (to the last detail), and a representation of American racial tension that seems as relevant now as when the book takes place.
Jun 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Negro and an Ofay by Danny Gardner tells the story of Elliot Caprice. The story begins with Elliot in jail before he gets released with the help of his reverend/sheriff friend, George. After release, Elliot goes back to Chicago where he gets entangled in a world of crime. This is a crime fiction set up in the 1950s. It is fast paced with a lot of action. The writing was great and I liked the fact that the author uses a lot of dialogue in the story. I think my favorite part of the book was the ...more
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a fantastic addition to the post World War II noir genre! Great story line, well drawn characters, addictive reading, and an honest dose of the realism of 1950s style racism that plagued America. Danny Gardner does a brilliant job with Elliot Caprice portraying the complicated world of a light-skinned biracial military vet coming back to the world after the war. So glad I discovered this book. Highly recommended.
Bonnye Reed
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
GNAB I received a free electronic copy of this historical (1952) novel from Netgalley, Danny Gardner, and Down and Out Books in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.

This is a debut novel, an awesome tale, and told very well. What Walter Mosley has done for the deep coastal south and Los Angeles, Danny Gardner has accomplished for the Midwest and Chi Town. I hope this is the first of many more Elliot Caprice novels. Elliot, Uncle Nathan "Buster" Caprice
Rob Kitchin
It’s fair to say that there’s a lot going on in Danny Gardner’s A Negro and an Ofay. At the core of the story is the conflicted life of Elliot Caprice, the light-skinned child of a black man and white woman, brought up traversing the black and white Jewish communities of Southville, Illinois; college educated, a military veteran, a former cop, and on the run after killing two cops when his cover as a Fed informer was blown. The tale follows Caprice’s attempt to save himself, his uncle and their ...more
Scott Waldyn
Oct 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The crime genre, much like the horror and science fiction genres, is one of those arenas where a writer can submerge deep within its vast, concrete jungle and get lost. Crime writers can burrow into limitless catacombs and unending subterranean tunnels and find almost anything — say almost anything. Once the city is constructed and the stage built, there’s potential for an author to overturn any number of stones, as many as the imagination can see.

In A Negro and an Ofay: The Tales of Elliot Capr
African Americans on the Move Book Club
Danny Gardner’s A Negro and an Ofay was a refreshing read. Immediately upon opening the novel, Gardner immerses the reader into the main character Elliot Caprice’s mind. Caprice’s mindset is a mash of familial duty, scorn and guilt. Caprice is dead set on doing the right thing to right a wrong doing, but the world just ’t let him do it. Gardner creates a character that one can’t help but root for as he sorts out his sordid past and tries to forge a better future. The setting of the novel creates ...more
Josh Stallings
Dec 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Danny Gardner is off to a flying start with his debut novel. A wonderfully rich cast of law men, twist, conmen hustlers and folks just trying to make it another day alive. Elliot Caprice is a complex dark heroic son of a bitch of a man. One I would roll with where ever he was going. 50's Chicago is fully realized, corruption decay and all. It is also a strong social commentary on race then and sadly now. My minor complaint is at times the rich language overwhelms the thrust of the story. Minor. ...more
Rory Costello
Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's got a lot of flair, a lot of heart, and a lot of good action. Plus, it's got a lot to say -- in a nuanced way -- about the subject of race in America, from the notable standpoint of a mixed-race main figure.

Elliot Caprice is certainly strong enough to carry a series, as the cover indicates is in store. However, I especially enjoyed the nicely detailed secondary cast, especially Big Frank, but also Mike and Elaine, among others.

I'll admit to getting a trifle confused about the plot -- the tw
Jan 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I received this book from the publisher Down and Out Books through Netgalley, thank you very much for this Advance Readers Copy
This is a 1950's historical crime fiction based in Chicago.
The characters are very real and yet likeable. I would like to see them continued in a series.
The plot is complex and dense, which left me behind on occasion.
I found some of the dialogue difficult to understand especially in the beginning.
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
With A NEGRO AND AN OFAY, Danny Gardner is establishing himself as an upcoming writer to watch. No other writer right now has a voice or point of view like Gardner’s. It’s clear from his writing that he is passionate about both his storytelling and his characters. Gardner has something to say and we all need to pay attention when he puts pen to paper.
Cyn Vargas
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A Negro and an Ofay is a compelling story with vivid characters and an array of action in a world of crime. From the fully realized Elliott Caprice to the Reverend-turned-sheriff George Stingley, and everyone in between, Gardner creates an intriguing world in which you won't want to leave.
Darlene Dejohnette
Interesting story...the Chicago factor was cool. I need to find out where "Southville" is.
It is a first book, but I think the second will be stronger and I’m excited to read it!
Wendy Kendall
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This gritty Urban Noir book is a loosely fictional account about a real person, Lieutenant William Drury, a person “known for personal bravery” as was said after his death. The story takes place in the early 1950’s in Chicago and includes fresh description and detail on the underbelly of life in the city and surroundings. This author’s mastery of language in both text description and in dialogue is compelling and a real treat to read. The beleaguered protagonist faces systemic corruption and Syn ...more
Two chapters into this book, I looked at my husband and said "I want to write like Danny Gardner when I grow up."

I am not kidding.

Gardner's use of language is masterful. He puts us right into former Chicago police detective Elliot Caprice's world ... and it's not a pretty one. We meet Elliot when he's in jail during the Jim Crow era. Caprice is of mixed ethnicity (reference the title of the book; "ofay" was Black slang for white people during the period). He soon demonstrates that he is not only
George Lichman
Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, fiction, netgalley, 2020
Post WWII Chicago is a dangerous place, especially for Elliot Caprice. Half white and half black, raised by his uncle after his white mother left him, spent his childhood working for Jewish organized crime, relying on his intelligence to avoid trouble—barely!

After serving in WWII, Elliot returns to the States and finds himself in jail under an alias, on the run from the Chicago Police. Forced to reconnect with family and friends from his childhood for help, he begins to consider the roots he wa
Jul 28, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book, but for me it was just too busy. There are competing motivations for Elliott, our main character, as he returns to his hometown following a stitch up in Chicago. There are also the undercurrent of racial tension throughout and there is just a bit too much going on at times to make this a smooth and truly captivating read.

Elliott Caprice is one of those great characters who straddles the line between good and bad, very literally in this case, having gone from debt collecting
Holly West
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best debuts I've read in a long time. Set in the 1950s Chicago area, Elliot Caprice is a mix-raced cop who knows both sides of the law and isn't afraid of playing them against each other to achieve his ends. In this case, he needs to save his family farm from foreclosure so he reluctantly takes a job as a process server for a lawyer acquaintance and quickly finds himself caught between Chicago law enforcement, a powerful family, and organized crime.

Nothing is simple in Elliot'
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
A nice change of pace. Gardner has strong character development and strong skills in weaving a story.

Elliot Caprice is a half-white, half-negro in the times when segregation was still a thing and a black police officer was hardly heard of thing but Caprice was a detective with the Chicago PD before things went sideways and he ended up killing two crooked cops.

The story starts with Caprice waking up in the St. Louis Jail, going by one of his alias names, he befriends a fellow cellmate, calls ho
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I don't know where to begin in my review of this exceptional book. Elliott is a complex character who has been kicked on the gut by life at several points but manages to be a mostly good guy. In a time when the world and country are unkind and uncaring, he is able to still make his way. There are many different characters that are his friends and family that see him for what he is not for his race. He has a difficult task before him with multiple sources of danger but he navigates his way throug ...more
Neliza Drew
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A Negro and an Ofay, on the surface, is a crime novel. Elliot Caprice has been to college, been to war, been a Chicago cop and been on the run. By the time we catch up to him, he’s run out of places to run, and he’s contemplating what happens next, which leads him into a case involving the missing driver of a recently-rich woman. Underneath, Gardner’s book is about family, the one you have and the one you make. It’s about going home again, and making amends. It’s about learning who you are after ...more
Tiffany S
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I lean towards historical fiction which is what made me select this book to read. It also fits under mystery & thriller and makes me want to read more of that genre if as well written as this. I definitely want to see more from Danny Gardner. For a debut novel, this was amazing. The character development was impressive. The flow was great. The realizing how far we have come and how far we have to go in race relations hit hard when reading this book. I highly recommend this book to all readers no ...more
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best debut novels I have ever read! Danny Gardner has taken historical fiction, added sharp characters and a very credible storyline from a 1950's African-American perspective. In a time when a black man was treated as far less-than, Gardner's flawed protagonist, Elliot Caprice works at proving his worth to himself while surviving in a corrupt Chicago. Noir fiction at its best! Outstanding!
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Beginning with HBO's Def Comedy Jam (Season 3,) Danny Gardner has enjoyed careers in acting, stand-up comedy, and filmmaking. His debut novel, A Negro and an Ofay, was nominated for several awards, including the Shamus Award for Best First Novel (2018.) He lives and works in Los Angeles by way of Chicago, Illinois, USA. Ace Boon Coon is his second novel.

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