Anything by Chester Himes is getting read.
This is the second one of his Harlem crime novels I’ve read. The other one was The Real Cool Killers–and some of the same characters are here too, like the two black detectives and the barman whose hand got cut off in the other book.
But you really don’t need any background to follow along. The Crazy Kill starts off with a robbery in the early morning. Then there’s a guy leaning out the window trying to see the action and he falls out onto a bread basket on the sidewalk. A couple scenes later, a different guy is laid out dead in the same spot.
Himes is clever as hell and knows Harlem well. The type of people who are there, what they look like, where they came from, what they do. My favorite character was Dulcy. She’s the bad bitch of the book who is the center of the drama. Problems with her man, problems with her ex, problems with drinking. But she’s definitely not dumb.