I came acress Coffin Ed Johnson and Gravedigger Jones by chance, but I quickly became a fan. ISaw the film "Cotton Comes To Harlem" a short while ago, and happened upon this book the next day, and bought it, as I had enjoyed the film. The book is made up of three stories featuring Harlems toughest detectives. They are known, feared and respected all through Harlem, with their tough attitude and matching side-arms. Coffin Ed and Gravedigger Jones deal with all kinds of strange crimes in this anthology, from murder to theft, by way of transvestite prostitutes, corrupt politicians, and racist white detectives. Himes painted a vivid picture of life for the poor black population of 40's/50's Harlem. My favourite scene involves a group of detectives, all white but for our heros, looking at a body and trying to figure out how it got to where it is now. One detective keeps using that most taboo word "nigger" to describe the corpse(I only use it here as it figures largely in Himes writing). After a warning, Coffin Ed,not being known for his cool temper, lets loose on him, leaving him badly beaten. The senior detective, who is white, just shrugs it of with "he shouldn't say that in front of Coffin Ed." This summed up the stories for me, funny, shocking,beafutifully written by a man who really knew, lived with and loved his subject material.