Best 1957 Adventures (5)
July 28, 2017
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1957 adventure novels. Happy 60th anniversary!
Chester Himes’s crime adventure For Love of Imabelle (aka A Rage in Harlem).
In the first of the author’s nine “Harlem Detective” novels featuring black police detectives Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones, a hard-working, church-going undertaker’s assistant (Jackson) is conned out of money that he stole from his employer by the beautiful Imabelle — who immediately takes a powder. Unwilling to believe the worst of her, Jackson enlists the help of his twin brother, Goldy, a con artist and heroin addict who masquerades as a nun (!), and seeks Imabelle across the length and breadth of Harlem. There are shootings, stabbings, and acid flinging; and some great chase scenes. Coffin and Gravedigger, who play much more central roles in later installments of this series, play only a minor role in this one.
Fun fact: Chester Himes spent eight years in prison for armed robbery, as a young man; in middle age, he moved to Paris and rubbed elbows with Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Ishmael Reed, and other expats. The author of more literary works such as If He Hollers Let Him Go (1945), he wrote the “Harlem Detective” books in order to make a quick buck.
Let me know if I’ve missed any 1957 adventures that you particularly admire.