A Rage in Harlem

A Rage in Harlem



The Pequod Review:

Chester Himes (1909-1984) wrote some of the finest mystery novels of the 1960s — gritty, hard-boiled, and fast-paced books with a high body count. His books were also partly protest novels, and generally included poor treatment of minorities by the police and other authority figures. (Himes himself was African-American, and wrote most of his novels from France where he moved to avoid the racism he found in America.) A Rage in Harlem is a plot-heavy crime novel involving a counterfeit money scam and several interesting characters. But the real focus is on the neglected neighborhood of Harlem:

Looking eastward from the towers of Riverside Church, perched among the university buildings on the high banks of the Hudson River, in a valley far below, waves of gray rooftops distort the perspective like the surface of a sea. Below the surface, in the murky waters of fetid tenements, a city of black people who are convulsed in desperate living, like the voracious churning of millions of hungry cannibal fish. Blind mouths eating their own guts. Stick in a hand and draw back a nub. That is Harlem.