Bad Men and Wicked Women by Eric Jerome Dickey (Crime Novel, 2018).
Here’s another sexy, action-packed, complex and involving crime novel from Eric Jerome Dickey.
Ken Swift is a tough-guy who works for a ruthless female crime boss in the Los Angeles area. He’s basically an enforcer, threatening and/or beating people up when they’re too slow repaying debts. Yet he’s also a thoughtful, intelligent African-American man with a conscience and a seriously messed up personal life. The latter includes the daughter he’s been estranged from since his ex-wife left, carrying off Margaux at age five.
Now a young adult, Margaux suddenly contacts him. She’s an angry, pregnant and desperate woman who, among other things, has bleached her skin (to better ‘pass’ as white). She blames Ken for not being there, though she’s only heard her mother’s and her mother’s scornful African family’s side of the breakup story. She’s in trouble (mini-spoiler: as Ken will soon realize, she and her fiance are being bled dry by a blackmailer). Abruptly, she demands Ken cough up $50,000. Somehow, she’s learned just enough about a killing Ken and his work partner were caught up in out of state to cause them a world of trouble. Revealing this would get everyone (including her) killed, as the boss lady covered her tracks–and besides, Ken doesn’t have that kind of cash on hand!
That same day, a high-dollar collection mission brings Ken and Jake Ellis (his Africa-born longtime partner and best friend) into conflict with a rich, crooked, extremely arrogant and racist character (and his neglected wife, whom handsome playa type Jake gets entirely too friendly with). What ensues is vintage Dickey: Smart and almost too discerning, racially and politically charged dialogues; a stream of glib pop culture riffs and black history references interspersed with tons of hardboiled action; raw passions (erotic, social and paternal) and genuine heartfelt humanity.
The rich white guy must pay up, but vows revenge for being humiliated by a pair of black dudes.
Ken and Jake (and others) will then barely survive repeated acts of harrowing violence, the boss lady’s “people” ultimately dispose of the leftover debris/evidence and Ken later solves his daughter’s problem in brutal, yet convincing fashion–proving to Margaux she was wrong about him. Oh, and Ken also begins to sort out his tangled romantic situation with a popular singer with her own violent past, the sexy black-Brit across the street AND her Ethiopian-born ex-wife.
A sprawling, chaotic and powerful hard-crime novel–this is the kind of thing Dickey is justly known for.