Saturday, July 29, 2017

7/29/1909 Chester Himes is born

July 29, 1909.  Chester Himes, arguably the first great African-American mystery writer, was born this day in Jefferson City, Missouri.  He started writing while in prison for armed robbery.  He is best remembered for the Harlem Detectives novels he wrote, featuring Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones, two Harlem police detectives.  Three of them were made into movies, starting with Cotton Comes To Harlem in 1970.

The novelist Ishmael Reed wrote that Himes "taught me the difference between a black detective and Sherlock Holmes."

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