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Hot Day Hot Night

(Harlem Cycle #8)

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  663 ratings  ·  75 reviews
New York is sweltering in the summer heat, and Harlem is close to the boiling point. To Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones, at times it seems as if the whole world has gone mad. Trying, as always, to keep some kind of peace-their legendary nickel-plated Colts very much in evidence-Coffin Ed and Grave Digger find themselves pursuing two completely different cases thro ...more
Paperback, 238 pages
Published December 2nd 1975 by Signet (first published 1969)
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Giles It's my understanding this was legitimately Harlem argot at the time. I think there is a line in one of James Ellroy's books (Perfidia? I can't be…moreIt's my understanding this was legitimately Harlem argot at the time. I think there is a line in one of James Ellroy's books (Perfidia? I can't be sure) where a group of white cops is genuinely dumbfounded that the black crims they pick up use the term, like it is new and had not been heard before.

As an aside I have quite a few Pakistani and Indian colleagues who in similar situations use the term 'sister-f**ker'. (less)
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3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  663 ratings  ·  75 reviews

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Dan Schwent
Nov 12, 2010 rated it liked it
When a pantsless man with his throat cut dies at the feet of Coffin Ed and Grave Digger Jones, it's up to the toughest detectives in Harlem to find out who killed him. But can they solve the murder and figure out who's causing the riots that threaten to destroy Harlem?

Hot Day, Hot Night, aka Blind Man with a Pistol, is more than a pulp detective story. Like Himes's other books featuring Coffin Ed and Grave Digger Jones, it's a commentary about racism and racial equality. You can definitely tell
This novel by Chester Himes is basically an example of existentialism old school Harlem style. It may not be for everybody, certainly not for readers who want a clear cut answer at the end of their whodunnits, but I'm pretty sure Kafka and Camus would have approved of Blind Man with a Pistol. Who killed the pants-less man, why did that woman kill that guy, is any one person or organization behind the marches that quickly escalate into riots and looting? Questions such as these are asked, most ar ...more
Ben Loory
Jun 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the most furious books I've ever read in my life. Somewhere between Celine and Ralph Bakshi
At some point, my optimism and I have to part ways; it’s either sadistic or I’m a dumbass who can’t even learn as well as a pigeon or both. I’ve looked forward to this book for several months and even after it became clear it was a disappointment I kept reading on the off-chance it would get better (peck the right disc, dumbass!). But nope. The characters are flat. The book is vulgar without wit, like a teenager who mutters “cock” at the dinner table and then looks around to see if he can have t ...more
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013
This is the only Himes I've read and I'm guessing it probably isn't the best place to start -- see Ben Winch's great review of another Himes book for a summary of Himes' work -- but I've been meaning to put up this quote from the book because it is so damn good:

While Coffin Ed was transmitting the essential facts over the radio-phone, colored people in various stages of undress began emerging from the black dark tenements alongside. Black women in terrycloth robes with their faces greased and t
May 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is where, with his 8th book, Chester Himes ended his Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson series (there is the unfinished Plan B after this). The chaos that is in all the books takes over, and we get a blistering, almost absurdist novel where violence is rampant and none of the major crimes, including murders, gets solved. The final images are those of total communication breakdown and, quite literally, a blind man with a pistol firing his gun in the enclosed space of a crowded NYC subwa ...more
Honestly didn't follow most of the book. There was a lot of skipping around and too many different point of views. The crimes weren't solved...which I'm sure has some significance but at this point I'm not sure what. I guess the author just hated the way things were at the time and was trying to show Harlem for what it was. Interesting book though and I'll probably like it more when I re-read it not expecting the crimes to be solved and focusing more on why it's written the way it is.
Daniel Polansky
As a summer Harlem explodes with violence, the powers that be send Gravedigger and Coffin Ed to figure out who’s causing it, only to discover that the culprit is (wait for it) racism! One gets the sense that Himes was basically sick of writing this series by this point; this is less a mystery novel than it is an exploration of a New York about to explode. There’s lots of murders, but none of them get solved; there’s lots of evil, but none really gets punished. I was always pretty much reading Hi ...more
Jan 25, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Harlem, a summer in the late 1960s: temperatures are sweltering, and its residents are becoming more agitated and tense, fueled by a series of protests and violent murders that threaten to tear the neighborhood's fragile structure apart. Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones, two of NYC's finest detectives, are called upon to solve these crimes and help restore order. The two encounter a variety of odd and unsavory characters, including a preacher who claims to be 100 years old and the father ...more
Dec 10, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, how sad that this series is over, but the ending of this book is completely satisfying and addresses the issue of racism that Himes has been confronting thoughout these books. There are good & bad people in any ethnicity and Himes makes sure the reader knows it; some of the characters know this too, but not all, which is where the drama begins.

There is a race riot going on in Harlem. There are a variety of different groups mentioned as being involved & not two of these groups can get
Charles Clark
Dec 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
This book reads like it was started with the intent of a plot similar to the other Harlem Detectives books, but along the way it was altered to something much more abstract and interesting. With this idea in mind, I guessed it may have been written in 1967 or 1968, and in fact it was initially published in 1969.

Given the news events of the past few years relative to the relations between police and African-Americans all over the country, Blind Man with a Pistol reads like it could have been init
Himes has somewhat faded from view for modern mystery readers, but his Harlem Cycle is due a renaissance - his noir take on the African American experience presages Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins but has its own unique sensibility. His lead detectives are grudgingly aware of their set-down place in their world, and their cynical humor is both acerbic and heart-breaking.
Zuzu Burford
Aug 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
What an author. Almost forgotten today. A daring novel for its time during the race problems in the 60s especially in New York. The political undercurrent of this novel really sums up the period of disillusionment,struggle, and reasons for the turmoil about to happen in the USA. So glad I found this writer.
Muddled crime novel, which seems more focused on the violence than actually solving the murders. Some of the murders seem to be included for the sake of more violence, with no real motive being explained. This includes the Blind Man with the pistol.
Eric Stone
May 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wacky, fun, hard-boiled Himes.
Geoff Sebesta
Dec 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So hard it hurts you. I don't want to call this "noir" because noir plays at ugliness and this is the real thing.
Sep 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: himes
1st from himes for me...

blind man with a pistol, chester himes, 1969...this version paperback, a 1989 printing...first vintage books edition, december 1989
191 story-pages long.

a preface
"a friend of mine, phil lomax, told me this story about a blind man with a pistol...and thought further that all unorganized violence is like a blind man with a pistol."
--chester himes

and this reader thought that all violence w/a pistol is organized, may it do ya fine, the deuce coupe de diablo. cue the fat lady.

Nathanael Myers
Not Himes's best. The plot is as loose and jangly as a tweaker wearing a fat man's pants.
I shd really create a bkshelf called "crime fiction" & get rid of "mysteries" since most of what I call "mysteries" here are more appropriately called the former. That's the case here. Himes is yet-another author I've known about for a long time w/o ever having gotten around to reading until now. This bk is copyrighted 1969 & reading it falls conveniently on the heels of my listening to a record of an Eldridge Cleaver speech at Syracuse Univ in 1968. Why convenient? B/c Cleaver was a bla ...more
3.5 stars
Two Harlem cops are following two cases in Harlem at a time of racial tension and outbreak of riots and demonstration. The characters are odd and mostly corrupt or powerless police (with the exception of the two protagonists, two African American detectives whose beat is Harlem), prostitutes, criminals, some strange cultist types, etc. Characters are not really well developed and this is more driven by the cases and the stories about the riots.

Amazon described this as grotesquely comic
Diego Paim
Ok this was a big mess. If you expect to read a classical mystery novel with investigation and crimes solution and everything, this is not the case. This book is about racism, violence, and inequality. It's a long commentary on the reality of Harlem in the 60's, the whole spectrum of violence and the way people see each other (be ready to read a lot of slurs) back in that time. I was disappointed, cause I was expecting this social critique background but with the investigation, the mystery, the ...more
Lots of action. Definitely in a hard-boiled style. Racial tension, several murders, various other crimes make for a tense read. The story moves back and forth in time a bit, but in general progresses chronologically. I especially like it because the disjointedness between the chapters imitates the chaos of events and the confusion of the police (both the African American detectives - the main characters - and the personality-less white cops & detectives & officials they work with). Very ...more
Nov 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Himes's Harlem detective series, this is the masterpiece, though it will help to have read at least some of the earlier volumes in the series, like Cotton Comes to Harlem, to get some context. This one takes place in the Harlem riots, and the structure of novel remarkably captures that chaos, while the substance makes deep political points in a light way. I re-read it recently, and it seems remarkably prophetic in a way that is larger than its immediate topic -- I find myself wondering how fa ...more
Dec 22, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book ended up being an interesting read after a very slow start. I can't say that I liked it or that I really know exactly what even happened. It was a very odd book as it was difficult to follow the narrative (lots of jumping around) and to keep track of the characters. I guess I would say it is more of a snapshot of a point in time...a glimpse of chaos as described by the author in the preface to the book.

This will likely be a book that I will appreciate more as I let it settle and as I
Elizabeth Rebecca Shaw
Rating is based on the fact that this is a very old book and very ambitious for its time. This is a gritty disjointed tale about the cause of a riot in Harlem. I like the characters of Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed but this is not their best tale. It is hard to keep up with the order of the action going on.
Sep 21, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
This is probably not the best Chester Himes work to start with (which is what I did). I won't say I enjoyed it, because I don't think I did--my main feeling while reading this was confusion. However, the class I read this for had some very meaningful discussions and I think it definitely helped me grow as a reader. It was definitely never boring.
Dec 26, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hardboiled-dicks
Disappointing. Himes has always infused his crime writing with chaotic situations, but here it's just one big mess. One of the most pivotal plot points happens with the introduction of fifteen different characters all in the course of two paragraphs. That's just sloppy writing, and Coffin Ed and Gravedigger Jones are completely wasted here.
The narrative is overwhelming and confusing. It reminds me of "A Canticle for Liebowitz." It begins with a character whose actions and dialog indicate where he's going in the narrative. Suddenly, the author obliterates him. The reader is left shocked and disoriented, trying to regain a foothold in the story.
It is difficult, but worth it.
I hope.
Dec 06, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
Himes confronts race relations in Harlem in his violent, bloody murder mysteries about a corrupt town and two non-corrupt tough cops doing their best to walk a delicate line. Plot line can be confusing as it shifts between three nearly separate stories with little explanation until the end. Himes' world is chaotic, at times tragic and at times hilarious, but always memorable.
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bdbc
There isnt a story here, tbere arr a numbef of snapshots of scenes or parts of stories from Harlem late sixties. Some are fascibating, others less so, sometimes its just confusing. But its not boring.
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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,

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)
  • Cotton Comes to Harlem (Harlem Cycle, #7)
  • Plan B (Harlem Cycle, #9)
“what i really need is a dead man.” 5 likes
“Motherfucking right, it's confusing; it's a gas, baby, you dig.” (A Harlem intellectual)” 2 likes
More quotes…