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Crook Manifesto

By Colson Whitehead
Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead digital book - Fable

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Publisher Description

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author of Harlem Shuffle continues his Harlem saga in a powerful and hugely-entertaining novel that summons 1970s New York in all its seedy glory.

“Dazzling” –Walter Mosley, The New York Times Book Review.

It’s 1971. Trash piles up on the streets, crime is at an all-time high, the city is careening towards bankruptcy, and a shooting war has broken out between the NYPD and the Black Liberation Army. Amidst this collective nervous breakdown furniture store owner and ex-fence Ray Carney tries to keep his head down and his business thriving. His days moving stolen goods around the city are over. It’s strictly the straight-and-narrow for him — until he needs Jackson 5 tickets for his daughter May and he decides to hit up his old police contact Munson, fixer extraordinaire.  But Munson has his own favors to ask of Carney and staying out of the game gets a lot more complicated – and deadly.

1973. The counter-culture has created a new generation, the old ways are being overthrown, but there is one constant, Pepper, Carney’s endearingly violent partner in crime.  It’s getting harder to put together a reliable crew for hijackings, heists, and assorted felonies, so Pepper takes on a side gig doing security on a Blaxploitation shoot in Harlem.  He finds himself in a freaky world of Hollywood stars, up-and-coming comedians, and celebrity drug dealers, in addition to the usual cast of hustlers, mobsters, and hit men. These adversaries underestimate the seasoned crook – to their regret.

1976.  Harlem is burning, block by block, while the whole country is gearing up for Bicentennial celebrations.  Carney is trying to come up with a July 4th ad he can live with. ("Two Hundred Years of Getting Away with It!"), while his wife Elizabeth is campaigning for her childhood friend, the former assistant D.A and rising politician Alexander Oakes.  When a fire severely injures one of Carney’s tenants, he enlists Pepper to look into who may be behind it. Our crooked duo have to battle their way through a crumbling metropolis run by the shady, the violent, and the utterly corrupted.

CROOK MANIFESTO is a darkly funny tale of a city under siege, but also a sneakily searching portrait of the meaning of family.  Colson Whitehead’s kaleidoscopic portrait of Harlem is sure to stand as one of the all-time great evocations of a place and a time.

5 Reviews

Slightly Smiling Face
Likable charactersDescriptive writingFunny writingSuspensefulImmersive settingRealistic settingComicalRacismViolence
““A man has a hierarchy of crime, of what is morally acceptable and what is not, a crook manifesto, and those who subscribe to lesser codes are cockroaches. Are nothing.” I love Colson Whitehead’s writing style so it was a no brainer for me to request the arc of Crook Manifesfo when I saw it on NetGalley! I did not realize this was the second book in a trilogy so, while I read a spoiler filled review of Harlem Shuffle, I did feel like I was missing a bit of the backstory in book 2. With that being said, I don’t think it mattered much. The story being told in Crook Manifesto is not necessarily about the plot, but instead a witty commentary on corruption and crime in Harlem during the 1970s. I thought it was weird that this was going to be a book about trying to get Carney’s daughter Jackson 5 tickets and that’s probably because it really wasn’t. This book is told in 3 parts and each section takes place in a different year. I found the first section a bit slow but it really takes off after that! I also really love a well structured book with obvious movement and that is definitely what this book is! This book is funny and full of social commentary. A well written book (and fantastically narrated - thank you to libro.fm for the advance listening copy)! ⭐️⭐️⭐️✨”
“As in the predecessor novel, Ray Carney struggles with conducting business in a straight and/or crooked manner. As he moves into the 1970s, I’m still rooting for him and liked the premise, but found the story stalled and meandered particularly by overly describing the setting and atmosphere.”

About Colson Whitehead

COLSON WHITEHEAD is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of eleven works of fiction and nonfiction, and is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, for The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad, which also won the National Book Award. A recipient of MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships, he lives in New York City.

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