In this new work by Whitehead we find ourselves back in Harlem in the 1970’s also the sight of his earlier work Harlem Shuffle. I read Harlem Shuffle but never wrote a review on it because I struggled to get into it…although my husband loved it. But I wanted to give Whitehead another go, so here is my Book Review Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead.
New York City Not a Nice Place in the 1970’s
Ray Carney, ex-fence is now on the straight and narrow and owner of a well respected furniture store in Harlem. Harlem in 1971 is a tough place, but Ray is trying to stay on the straight and narrow, despite opportunity and necessity of crime at every turn.
But Ray has promised his daughter he will get her Jackson Five tickets, and he turns to a former fixer cop he used to work with. And all hell breaks loose as Cop Munson pulls Ray into a deadly game.
1973 Ray’s old partner Pepper is still looking to be in the game of hijacking and heists, but things are changing in the city and work is slow. So he takes on a job as security on a film being shot in Harlem. The world of Hollywood with its cast of hustlers, mobster and hit men underestimate Pepper much to their regret.
1976 Harlem is underseige, as New York prepares for the Bicentennial Harlem is burning. When a young boy nearly dies in a suspicious fire in one of Ray’s properties, he suspects candidate Oakes. Even though Ray’s wife is supporting the candidate Ray knows he is a crook, willing to kill for power.
Crook Manifesto is a dark, yet often funny, look at survival in Harlem in the 1970’s. It is also an endearing story of family and loyalty and perseverance.
****Four stars for Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead
Read last week’s book review Chenneville by Paulette Jiles.
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