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Cotton Comes to Harlem (Harlem Cycle #7)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  1,179 Ratings  ·  96 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Ben Winch
Jun 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american, pulp, anglo, 5-stars
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
...more
Laura
From BBC radio 4 Extra:
Harlem, 1965: Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson are the most notorious Detectives in the Harlem precinct. Their methods are unorthodox, and some people think they're trigger happy, but ask any law-abiding citizen of Harlem and they'll sing their praises. So when the Reverend Deke O'Malleys Back to Africa movement collects $87,000 from poor black families - only to have it stolen from under their noses - Jones and Johnson get put on the case.

Read by Hugh Quarshie.

Che
...more
Richard
I was really in the mood for more of Chester Himes's Harlem Cycle books and this was the easiest one I could get my hand on at the moment. I'd read the first two books, A Rage in Harlem and The Real Cool Killers, and loved them. I had gathered that they don't need to be read completely in order, so I decided to jump into this one! In this installment, ace Harlem detectives Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson rush to track down a slimy con man, who's been swindling hard-working Harlem famili ...more
Andy
Jun 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Rhys
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed are two of the most original detectives in crime fiction. And a perfect opportunity for them to demonstrate their talents is provided by this caper, an extraordinary blast of mayhem, dark humour, social insight, perversion, irony and simmering sensuality, as conman Deke O'Malley persuades families to hand over their savings in order to buy passage on board ships going back to Africa. But the ships are fictions. The money scammed from the families is stolen by the ...more
Srinivas 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
Katherine
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: police, mystery, 2014
This is the first book by Chester Himes Chester Himes that I have read. This book is one of the 8 Harlem Detective mysteries that he published between 1957 and 1969. The detectives, Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones fit in with the Harlem milieu, and use this to solve the crimes. Reading the books now gives me a taste of what life was like in Harlem in the 50's and 60's.
Maria Altiki
Oct 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed
Ευκολοδιάβαστο βιβλίο που μαζί του περνάς ευχάριστα διαβάζοντας τις περιπέτειες των δύο ντετέκτιβ στο σκληρό μαύρο Χάρλεμ. Γλαφυρή η αφήγηση του Himes γεμάτη χρώματα, μυρωδιές, αίμα, σφαίρες, αραπίνες μαύρες ερωτιάρες, ευκολόπιστους μαυρούληδες, μια μπάλα απο μπαμπάκι και 87.000 δολλάρια.
Keach
Aug 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mother-raping cinematic.
KaleneMia
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brothers this maps is older than me and if you go back to this Africa you got to go by way of the grave.....I enjoyed this read just as well as I've enjoyed the movie.
Daniel Polansky
really don't know why this guy isn't more famous. First, you've got the pedigree – so far as I can tell the only black crime writer during the golden age of noir, friend of James Baldin, etc. – which alone would get him a peek. And on that whole end of things, he holds up nicely, offering an unflinching, indeed brutal, view on racial politics in New York during the tumultuous years of the 1960's. Himes's is a world in which everyone is pretty terrible, white or black (though the blacks have a b ...more
Lemar
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Emmkay
I read A Rage in Harlem a couple of years ago and enjoyed it, and this 7th book in the series featuring hard-boiled black police detectives Grave Digger and Coffin Ed is a good read too. Written a few years later in 1964, its Harlem setting has acquired a "Back-to-Africa" movement, a competing "Back to the Southland" movement led by a sinister white Southern colonel, and some Black Muslims who hold a tense rally. Kind of a cross of Raymond Chandler and blaxploitation films. The women characters ...more
Lisa Ciarfella
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Himes is a classic detective fiction writer who I will takes notes from, from here on out!

Himes writes fast, furious, independent unique characters with oh so vivid details jumping off the page!
His detective names are the bomb, Coffin Ed and Grave Digger Jones, and they scoff and scour and dance their way through the gritty streets of Harlem with enough savvy sarcasm, wit, irony and humor to make both Sam Spade and Phillipe Marlowe take notice....

The mean and lean streets of 1960's Harlem,
...more
Daniel
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short take:

Chester Himes wrote fantastic crime fiction and it is wrong that he is omitted from the frequent praise that mentions Chandler et al.

More thoughts:

Himes concocts a crazy story and then sets Digger and Ed loose to solve the case. The characters are lusty, violent and crafty. Himes is an excellent writer and his stories are bizarre and toothsome. I want everyone who likes crime fiction to read his work and experience its greatness.
Surbhi
Sep 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this for school and I have to say it was interesting. Not too shabby and good mystery read with focus on the African Americans!! Great to see other point of views of history.
ΠανωςΚ
Dec 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Στα ελληνικά «Βαμβάκι στο Χάρλεμ», εκδόσεις Αγρα.
Mariano Hortal
Publicada en http://lecturaylocura.com/clasicos-no...

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
Edward
Dec 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This classic hard-boiled detective novel set in Harlem was one of several books shown in the recent Luke Cage series. While I've read a few of the other works from the show's "reading list," I had never heard of Chester Himes before, an author now known for his crime dramas starring the recurring character of Grave Digger Jones.

I'm normally not a big fan of crime stories, but Himes does an amazing job evoking the time and setting of his narrative, which is roughly sometime in the 1960s. The ebb
...more
Bob Mackey
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazingly, Chester Himes wrote crime novels that successfully blend cartoonish violence with extremely poignant moments, and Cotton Comes to Harlem doesn't deviate from his usual style. Being part of his nine-novel Harlem Cycle series, this installment again focuses on Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones, some of the earliest known fictional cops who don't play by the rules and get results (and they're even paired with a grumbling chief).

As always, Himes' novels shed a little light on the b
...more
David
Jul 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
Very hard boiled. Downright misanthropic. Like, you're reading it and thinking, wow, this is really misogynistic until you realize that it's not just the women that are portrayed as really venal and contemptible... but maybe they are, in the end a little more contemptible?

Look, it's an interesting caper, it's got some good moments, and it's certainly an interesting sketch of the sketchy side of Harlem of a certain time. And no doubt Himes gets some good shots in on the varieties of white suprema
...more
Steve
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
My first foray into the writing of Chester Himes was a bit of a let-down. This was a fair detective novel that veered between near-comical and sheer anger. There is a lot not only between the lines, but in stark, boldfaced type within this short read. Himes addresses racism, stereotypes, culture, and economics in his tale, with Harlem as the epicenter. To that end, he doesn't steer clear of stereotyping himself, whether racial or sexual. There is no shortage of predictable, hard-boiled, lurid wr ...more
Rob
Jun 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up because we saw part of the movie on Bounce one evening. It was definitely a fast read, and a look into a world that many know nothing about beyond the movies.

The only reason this took me some time was because I had a few things erupt the day after I started it. This can be done in one sitting by most.
Dan
Sep 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably the best of the Harlem Cycle stories with Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed !
Brian
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By far one of the best detective writers of all time. Highly recommended.
Tunde Oyebode
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A mother raping good book.
Luna Raven
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an ending!

The story moves right along from start to finish with action and one heck of a storyline. I didn't see the end coming as my mind had gone a different direction, and when I realized what had happened I laughed with delight. An excellent read from Chester Himes, this is noir that is truly meant to be enjoyed on a variety of levels.
Jessica
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good. Moves quickly. A tad convoluted, but that's part of its charm.
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
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Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect book description 2 22 May 03, 2013 12:03AM  
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4392029
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...

Other Books in the Series

Harlem Cycle (9 books)
  • A Rage in Harlem (Harlem Cycle, #1)
  • The Real Cool Killers (Harlem Cycle, #2)
  • The Crazy Kill (Harlem Cycle, #3)
  • The Big Gold Dream (Harlem Cycle, #4)
  • All Shot Up (Harlem Cycle, #5)
  • The Heat's On (Harlem Cycle, #6)
  • Blind Man with a Pistol (Harlem Cycle, #8)
  • Plan B (Harlem Cycle, #9)

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“You bring the list to me at midnight. I’ll be waiting down by the Harlem River underneath the subway extension to the Polo Grounds in my cah, and I’ll pay you right then and there. It will be dark and deserted at that time of night and nobody’ll see you.” Barry” 0 likes
“Two days later they got a verification from Air France that they had flown a very old colored man with a passport issued to Cotton Bud of New York City by way of Paris to Dakar. They” 0 likes
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