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Chester Himes Books In Order

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Publication Order of Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones Books

For Love of Imabelle / A Rage in Harlem (1957)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Rage in Harlem (1957)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Real Cool Killers (1958)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Crazy Kill (1959)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Big Gold Dream (1959)Description / Buy at Amazon
All Shot Up (1960)Description / Buy at Amazon
Cotton Comes to Harlem (1964)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Heat's On / Come Back Charleston Blue (1966)Description / Buy at Amazon
Blind Man with a Pistol / Hot Day, Hot Night (1969)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

If He Hollers Let Him Go (1945)Description / Buy at Amazon
Lonely Crusade (1947)Description / Buy at Amazon
Cast the First Stone / Yesterday Will Make You Cry (1952)Description / Buy at Amazon
Third Generation (1954)Description / Buy at Amazon
The End of a Primitive (1956)Description / Buy at Amazon
Run Man Run (1960)Description / Buy at Amazon
Pinktoes (1961)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Case Of Rape (1963)Description / Buy at Amazon
Black On Black (1973)Description / Buy at Amazon
Plan B (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Story Collections

The Collected Stories of Chester Himes (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

My Life of Absurdity (1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Quality of Hurt (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

The Olympia Reader: An Anthology of Erotic & Literary Classics(1965)Description / Buy at Amazon
City Sleuths and Tough Guys(1989)Description / Buy at Amazon
Writing Los Angeles(2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
Los Angeles Noir 2(2010)Description / Buy at Amazon

Chester Himes was an American bestselling author of mystery, thriller, and literary fiction author.

The author was born into a well-educated middle-class family in Jefferson Missouri in 1909. He grew up in a family that had a passion for writing and books and hence he read a lot as a child.

He made his name writing novels that reflect the experiences of African Americans with racism as he describes unpalatable truths.

For a very long time, Himes’ literary genius was not recognized in the United States. When he moved to France, he published several black detective mysteries and came to be deemed a master on the level of Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Richard Wright.

During his childhood, his dark-skinned father was often emasculated and dominated by his light-skinned mother which shaped the author’s racial outlook and caused a lot of resentment.

Still, Chester had a reputation for having more angry fire compared to his contemporaries. This probably had to do with the fact that he wrote about black protagonists doomed by self-hate and white racism.

The fact that the family often had to relocate as well as the accidental blinding of his brother also informed his writings.

After Chester Himes fell down an elevator shaft while he was at work, he became eligible for disability income.

He decided to use that money to attend Ohio State University. It was at university that he came to see racism from a very different perspective and could no longer deny it.

He would go on to be expelled from college for a stupid prank that precipitated his journey into the underworld. Aged only 19, he was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison when he took part in an armed robbery.

While he was in prison, 300 inmates died from fire and from the ashes in addition to inspiration from Dashiell Hammett’s Black Mask, he began writing.
His story was published in several magazines including “Esquire,” “Pittsburgh Courier,” “Abbott’s Monthly Magazine,” “Atlanta Daily World,” and “Bronzeman.”
After serving eight years of his sentence, he was paroled and went on to work for the Ohio Writers’ Project.

Bomar Himes published “If He Hollers, Let Him Go” in 1945. The work explores the humiliation, anger, and fear of a black employee.

The character had to deal with racist bosses and colleagues while working in a defense factory during the Second World War.

In 1942, Chester Himes got separated from his wife, which sparked a period when he traveled all over the world. By 1950 he decided to make France his permanent home, in part because he had made very good friends in the literary circles in Paris.

In the city of lights, he would become the contemporary of the likes of expatriate writers William Gardner Smith, James Baldwin, and Richard Wright, and Oliver Harrington the political cartoonist.

It was in Paris that he met Lesley Himes the “Herald Tribune” journalist, who would become his second wife.

In 1959, he suffered from a stroke and Lesley his wife left her journalist job to take care of him. She would become his confidante, proofreader, and informal editor.
As a mixed-race couple, Chester and Lesley faced all manner of challenges in Paris but they prevailed. Their friends during this time included creative friends and political figures such as Malcolm X, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, and Ishmael Reed.

They would eventually move to the South of France and ultimately to Spain where they lived until Chester died in 1984.

“A Rage in Harlem” by Chester Himes is a work set in the 1950s in Harlem.

The lead is Jackson a hard-working and religious man. Imabelle his girlfriend has connected whim with some shady characters that say they can multiply money.
Jackson finds all the money he can so that it can be converted into thousands and by the time the police turn up, he has been conned of his life savings.
He is forced to steal some more money at his workplace to bribe the officer who intends to arrest him.

Thinking his wife must be in danger of being arrested, he asks his brother to help him. Goldy is an intelligent man that would never have fallen for such a scam as compared to his trusting rube of a brother.

The latter is a street smart man that usually disguises himself as a nun and goes around town selling tickets to heaven and collecting money for charities.
When his brother tells him that Imabelle’s trunk has some valuable items, Goldy begins planning another scheme.

With Goldy by his side, maybe Jackson could just get justice. He happens to have a relationship with Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones who are a pair of black detectives. They usually keep the peace through their pistols and intimidation.

Chester Himes’ novel “The Real Cool Killers” is a work set in the Dew Drop Inn in Harlem. The lead is Galen, a rare patron at the bar who is good friends with Big Smiley the bartender.

At the opening of the story, there is a huge fight at the bar that involves Big Smiley the bartender, Galen, and another person. The latter seems to have inexplicable and enormous rage toward Galen.

The latter manages to flee the bar, only to be taken down by a mysterious gunman on the street. There is all manner of people who may have had a motive for killing the white bar patron who likes young black girls and is known to be very rich.

The complications include the fact that there was a black girl that was found high on drugs standing over the body with a gun full of blanks, a disappearing suspect, and a gang of Muslims.

Johnson and Jones are intelligent and dedicated detectives who use brutality, intimidation, and violence to move their investigation forward.
But the author portrays them as human beings whose virtues exist alongside their prejudices.

“The Crazy Kill” by Chester Himes is a work that opens to the wake of a local man presided by the Reverend Short.

The clergyman had fallen out of the third-story window while watching a police pursuit of a man that stole money from a grocery store. He was fortunate enough that he landed on an abread basket and he is not injured in the slightest.

But when the people look out the window where he just got up, they see the body of a man named Val. It seems he had been stabbed to the heart with a big knife.

With too many suspects, it is going to be difficult to establish an opportunity or motive for the crime. In addition, there could be an overriding secret that may be critical to resolving the murder.

While there are seven principal characters, the real star of the story is Harlem whose people and streets the author describes in a way that will make one marvel pause and reread the pr

Book Series In Order » Authors » Chester Himes

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