I went on a quest for some Chester Himes not to long ago, hearing that he was an influence on Joe Lansdale. This was the first of his books I stumbled upon. The blurb on the cover says "Lush sex and stark violence, colored Black and served up raw by a great Negro writer."
How could I not buy it?
A drunken cop, Matt Walker, is stumbling around Harlem and can't find his car. He wanders into an automat where three black men are working as porters. He immediately accuses them of stealing his car. While he's pointing his gun at one of them in a drunken rage, the gun goes off "accidentally." Seeing the trouble he'll be in, Walker finishes off the man he shot, kills another porter, and wounds the other, Jimmy Johnson. Johnson survives, but Walker is on his trail...
The suspense in this thing is unbelievable. It's not hard to empathize with Jimmy, what with the psycho cop Walker stalking him at every turn. You also feel for Detective Brock, Walker's brother cop and brother in law. And though some of her behavior is horrible, you even feel for Linda, Jimmy's girlfriend who's not sure what to believe.
You can definitely see how Himes influenced Lansdale. It's not hard to believe that Lansdale's Texas and Himes's Harlem exist in the same world.
I'd recommend this to all crime fans, especially those of the pulp and Hard Case variety.