October 26, 2010

Cocktail Talk: The Crazy Kill

Chester Himes is one fantastic and fantastically varied writer. He’s written novels a plenty, known for their rigorous politics, but never getting bogged down by them, more rollicking stories, and pure polemics. But he’s probably best known for his series of Harlem crime books, which star two unforgettable police detectives, Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones. These books, for me, manage what most “crime” books don’t, which is to create a universe so complete and entertaining and real that the mysteries or crimes become, not secondary, but only a part of the whole, instead of the only thing tying a book together. The fact that many characters hit a variety of bars and have drinks a’poppin’ doesn’t hurt either. This quote is from The Crazy Kill, and if you don’t always want your drinks ice-cold, you’ll appreciate it (really, you’ll appreciate it no matter what I’ll bet).

When Johnny sat down the waitress came with the menu, and PeeWee brought in a big glass pitcher of lemonade, with slices of lemons and limes and big chunks of ice floating in it.

‘I want a Singapore Sling,’ Dulcy said.

Johnny gave her a look.

‘Well, brandy and soda then. You know good and well that ice-cold drinks give me indigestion.’


–Chester Himes, The Crazy Kill

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