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Fleet acquires new novel from Colson Whitehead

The team at Fleet, an imprint of Little, Brown UK, are delighted to announce that we will be publishing Crook Manifesto by double Pulitzer-winning novelist Colson Whitehead on 18 July 2023.

Crook Manifesto is a continuation of Ray Carney’s story, which began with Harlem Shuffle, this time revealing 1970s New York City in all its seedy glory.

1971: trash is piled on the streets, crime is at a record high, and the city is careening towards bankruptcy. A shooting war has broken out between the NYPD and the Black Liberation Army. Ray Carney, furniture-store owner and ex fence, is trying to keep his head down, his business up, and his life on the straight and narrow. His only immediate need is Jackson 5 tickets for his daughter May, so what harm could it do to hit up Munson, his old police contact and fixer extraordinaire? And suddenly, staying out of the game becomes more complicated – and deadly.

1973: the counter-culture is on the rise, the old ways are being overthrown, but Pepper, Carney’s enduringly violent partner in crime, remains a constant. And while it’s getting harder to assemble a reliable crew for hold-ups, heists and assorted felonies, Pepper takes on a sideline – security on a Blaxpoitation shoot in Harlem. His new adversaries are a parade of Hollywood stars, celebrity drug dealers and comedians on the make – along with the usual cast of hustlers, mobsters and hit men – and they underestimate the seasoned crook. Badly.

1976: Harlem is burning as the country gears up for the Bicentennial. Carney is trying to come up with a July Fourth store promotion slogan he can live with (‘Two Hundred Years of Getting Away With It!’), while his wife Elizabeth is campaigning for her childhood friend, rising politician Alexander Oakes. Then one of Carney’s tenants is badly injured in a fire, and he enlists Pepper to look into how it started, leading the duo to battle their way through a crumbling metropolis run by the shady, the violent and the utterly corrupt.

In scalpel-sharp prose and with unnerving clarity and wit, Colson Whitehead writes about a city that runs on cronyism, threats, ego, ambition, incompetence and even, sometimes, pride. Crook Manifesto is a kaleidoscopic portrait of Harlem, and a searching portrait of how families work in the face of indifference, chaos and hostility.

Ursula Doyle, Fleet publisher, said, ‘We are hugely proud to be Colson Whitehead’s publisher in the UK and our international markets, and couldn’t be more pleased to bring the next instalment of Ray Carney’s story to readers. Colson’s body of work is one of the finest and most important in contemporary American letters, and Crook Manifesto is a superlative addition. It’s a thrilling read, by the writer dubbed “America’s Storyteller” by Time magazine.’