The Real Cool Killers

The Real Cool Killers

by Chester Himes


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Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones get personally involved in a gang dispute in The Real Cool Killers, one of the most provocative cases in Chester Himes’s groundbreaking Harlem Detectives series.  

Many people had reasons for killing Ulysses Galen, a big Greek with too much money and too great a liking for young black girls. But there are complications—like Sonny, found standing over the body, high on hash, with a gun in his hand that fires only blanks; a gang called the Moslems; a disappearing suspect; and the fact that Coffin Ed’s daughter is up to her pretty little neck in the whole explosive business.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679720393
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/28/1988
Series: Coffin Ed and Grave Digger Jones Series , #2
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 732,857
Product dimensions: 5.19(w) x 7.95(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Chester Himes was born in Missouri in 1909. He began writing while serving a prison sentence for a jewel theft and published just short of twenty novels before his death in 1984. Among his best-known thrillers are Blind Man with a Pistol, Cotton Comes to Harlem, The Crazy Kill, A Rage in Harlem, The Real Cool Killers, and The Heat's On, all available from Vintage.

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The Real Cool Killers 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
datrappert on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A white man is murdered on a Harlem street and the NYPD arrives in force to solve the crime. Most notably, two black detectives, Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson, are first on the scene. To say that chaos ensues would be an understatement. The narrative shifts between the police and the youth gang, The Real Cool Moslems, that has spirited away the suspected murderer. Though the subject matter is very sordid, this isn't as downbeat a book as most of Jim Thompson, Charles Willeford, or David Goodis. But even the two detectives don't come across as totally sympathetic. The violence that runs through Harlem in this book runs through their veins too. As the novel twists its way to its (perhaps) surprising conclusion, we see prostitutes, madams, pimps, juvenile delinquents, and lots of people who choose to look the other way when a crime occurs. Nevertheless, there is also a vein of humor, particularly the bumbling antics of some of the white policemen, who are shown to be out of their element in the depths of Harlem. Himes is a good storyteller, though the novel has a few strictly explicatory passages that seem a little out of place. I'll definitely check out his other novels in the Gravedigger/Coffin Ed series to see how these two manage to cope on their other cases.
lriley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Continuing on in his series of crime thrillers based in Harlem--The real cool killers--is the followup to 'A rage in Harlem' this time though focusing more on his two black police detectives Coffin Ed and Gravedigger Jones for his main characterization which makes it more of a police procedural. Though not quite as humorous as 'A rage in Harlem' it is action packed and compellingly written. Himes had an extraordinarliy good ear for dialogue and an objective outlook on the psychologies and different ways of expression for a wide varitey of viewpoints both of his black and white characters (the caucasian ones (with the exception of the main victim if that's what you want to call him) are almost if not all police officers though--who qualify IMO in our society almost as a subgroup of their own). Anyway like 'A rage in Harlem' it is a very enjoyable and intriguing read and I see him fast becoming my favorite American crime writer and maybe in my top two of the genre with Jean-Patrick Manchette. Three more of Himes' books BTW are currently on their way to my house.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good twists and turns. A new light on a tough world
tomjohnson1940 More than 1 year ago
Grave Digger Jones & Coffin Ed Johnson #2: “The Real Cool Killers” by Chester Hines. To be a black cop in Harlem, you have to be big, tough, and carry a big shiny gun with a long barrel. Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson are the best. “If you don’t answer my questions, I’ll drag you under the bridge and pistol whip you. If you try to run I’ll shoot you in the back of the head.” No one messes with these two, and they get results. In this case, a white man was in a Harlem bar when a black man goes after him with a knife. The bartender tries to stop him, but is cut, so grabs an ax under the counter and chops the knife arm off, while the white man runs from the bar. But outside another black man wants to have some fun with him, and pulls a blank pistol and starts firing blanks at him. The white man runs for his life with the black man running behind him, as a crowd gathers. When the white man falls, and the police respond, its discovered that he is dead from a bullet wound. They arrest the black man with the gun, but know he didn’t kill the white man with blanks. But who did. The police set up command at the scene and police surround the neighborhood and Grave Digger is sent off to investigate. Coffin Ed has been suspended because he killed a gang member at the scene when the teenager threw perfume in his face. Coffin Ed Johnson (called the Monster by locals) has scars on his face from acid and thought he was being hit with acid again, and shot in self-defense. Grave Digger Jones solves the case within a few hours, and never leaves the neighborhood, but the story was very good. The white man was a pervert. He liked young school age black girls, and used a whip on them. But he paid them one hundred dollars for his fun. The man in the bar was the father of the girl. The man arrested for the murder was the leader of the black gang, The Cool Moslems – but there is a twist here that I won’t mention. The book was published in 1959, and the author is a black man familiar with the black community and their problems, so his story is good from that angle also. One thing, though, this was written before the pc police got involved with literature, so it is full of racially expletives, and the “n” word is used quite often. Other than that, I found the story enjoyable and can recommend it to mystery lovers. You just have to understand the time it was written. I read all of the Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson mysteries when they first came out, but lost them over the years. It was fun finding this one again. It is an interesting mystery.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good writer, and a good story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book the real cool killers is outstanding because of it's story line the book is about the death of a greek man by the name of galen. So the police is trying to solve the case