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Academy Award nominee Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Star Wars films), fresh off the success of his uproarious, Audie-nominated performance of the mock children’s book Go the F**k to Sleep, delivers a swaggering, darkly-humored rendering of Chester Himes’ classic first novel.
Himes, described by The Sunday Times as “the greatest find in American crime fiction since Raymond Chandler”, was no stranger to the world of crime: in his late teens and early 20s, he served 7 years in the Ohio State Penitentiary for armed robbery, the confession to which was beaten out of him by the police. He delivers the tale of his hopelessly naïve hero suddenly finding himself on the run from a hypocritical and far-from-heroic police force with lurid violence and brutal humor. There is no voice better than Mr. Jackson’s to narrate this hardboiled story of love and crime, set in a richly imagined, mid-20th century Harlem.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Kitty on 05-28-12
A Visit to Another Era
An astonishing experience for a suburban white woman, to be transported to Harlem in the 1950s, and Himes (whom I'd heard of, but never read before) made it an unforgettable trip. The story is deliciously convoluted and the characters are perfectly presented, universal figures, yet each utterly one of a kind.
I was a little confused at first, because the lead characters in the series appear more than halfway through the story, and appear as secondary characters. This was Himes's first in the series, so perhaps he didn't realize he would use them again at the time he wrote it.
What set the whole thing sizzling was Samuel L. Jackson's extraordinary, sharp and loving performance, making each character uniquely memorable. I can't say enough about how much his power and enthusiasm got me sucked into the story completely.
13 of 14 people found this review helpful
By Ilana on 04-03-12
I'd heard of Chester Himes's Harlem Cycle before, but if it hadn't been for this new "A-List" collection and Samuel L. Jackson's narration, it might have been a while yet before I'd gotten around to this series. Taking place in Harlem, the story revolves around a naive man called Jackson who, when we first meet him, gets taken in by a team of fraudsters who convince him they can "raise" denominations of 10 dollars into 100 dollar bills. There's plenty of humour there, which combines well with the otherwise hardboiled world of gangsterism, drugs and violence. Not for the faint of heart, but deeply satisfying if you like your mysteries served up on the tough side.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful