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Crook Manifesto

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780349727660

Price: £9.99

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A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER: a powerful and hugely-entertaining novel that summons 1970s New York in all its seedy glory.

‘Glorious’ New York Times Book Review

‘The compelling energy of a crime thriller and the sharp wit of social satire’ Guardian

‘Whitehead’s crime series is one of the most enjoyable streaks in recent fiction’ Telegraph

‘This novel has it all’ Mail on Sunday

1971, New York City.
Trash piles up on the streets, crime is at an all-time high, the city is going bankrupt, and a shooting war has broken out between the NYPD and the Black Liberation Army. Furniture store owner and ex-fence Ray Carney is trying to keep his head down, his business up and his life straight. But then he needs Jackson 5 tickets for his daughter May and he decides to hit up an old police contact, who wants favours in return. For Ray, staying out of the game gets a lot more complicated – and deadly.

1973. The old ways are being overthrown by the thriving counterculture, but Pepper, Carney’s enduringly violent partner in crime, is a constant. In these difficult times, Pepper takes on a side gig doing security on a Blaxploitation shoot in Harlem, finding himself in a world of Hollywood stars 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, while the country gears up for the Bicentennial. Carney is trying to come up with a celebratory July 4th advertisement he can actually live with, while his wife Elizabeth is campaigning for her childhood friend, rising politician Alexander Oakes. When a fire seriously injures one of Carney’s tenants, he enlists Pepper to look into who may be behind it, navigating a crumbling metropolis run by the shady, the violent and the utterly corrupt.

‘Fast, fun, ribald… with a touch of Quentin Tarantino’ Sunday Times

‘A delight’ Financial Times

‘Hugely enticing’ Independent


As usual, when he moves into a new genre, he keeps the bones but does his own decorating
Washington Post
Crook Manifesto . . . is a delight . . . Few writers combine depth of insight and compassion with exquisite prose; Whitehead is one of them. I'd rather read his novels than those of just about any other writer alive.
Financial Times
Fast, fun, ribald and pulpy, with a touch of Quentin Tarantino in its deadpan dialogue and don't-take-this-too-seriously tone
Sunday Times
As well as being funny, effortlessly streetwise and criminally pleasurable to read it's also politically enlightening and quietly incendiary
Jane Graham, Big Issue
Whitehead's Crook Manifesto is a dazzling treatise, a glorious and intricate anatomy of the heist, the con and the slow game. There's an element of crime here, certainly, but as in Whitehead's previous books, genre isn't the point . . . gleefully detonates its satire upon this world while getting to the heart of the place and its people
New York Times Book Review
In Whitehead's second crime novel, Harlem's Ray Carney is once again a striving African American businessman and father trying to get ahead while sticking to the straight and narrow, a path that continually eludes him
Oprah Daily
Whitehead is as elegant a writer as there is
Bristol Magazine
Whitehead's writing is colourful and captivating - the characters jump off the page
The i
Two-time Pulitzer-winning author Whitehead shows no sign of resting on his laurels. Crook Manifesto continues the brilliantly realised sequence that began with Harlem Shuffle, intricately depicting cultural history and family drama with the compelling energy of a crime thriller and the sharp wit of social satire...In ambition and scope, in the way the intimate is so deftly weaved with the epic, one is also reminded of Balzac. Whitehead has embarked on a great comédie humaine of his own.
Jake Arnott, Guardian
The only living novelist to have won the Pulitzer prize for fiction twice, for The Underground Railroad in 2016 and The Nickel Boys in 2019...Resilience and reinvention are qualities that Whitehead has poured into Ray Carney, the furniture salesman and middleman for stolen goods at the heart of his hugely enjoyable 2021 heist novel Harlem Shuffle and now its follow-up, Crook Manifesto. Part of a proposed trilogy set in Harlem in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, the stories combine the family man turned crook dynamic of Breaking Bad with the hardboiled humour of crime novelists such as Chester Himes and Elmore Leonard. The blend of social realism, melodrama and farce prompted another comparison in my mind: Whitehead is fast becoming the Dickens of black American life
The Sunday Times
Sly plotting, vibrant characterisation, astute social history - this novel has it all
Hephzibah Anderson, Mail on Sunday
Whether in high literary form or entertaining, page-turner mode, the man is simply incapable of writing a bad book
Almost gleefully unhurried - meaning that blindsiding moments of pivotal drama arrive like a blow to the solar plexus. Roll on the third book in the series
Daily Mail
Whitehead excels at stitching gallows humour into some very heavy topics, and this novel is riven with them. It is violent, too, but he dispatches this with a Quentin Tarantino-esque swagger, which makes it all indecently entertaining . . . a stylist whose sentences sing
Nick Duerden, I Newspaper
There's spikey humour and perceptive honesty from the get-go
Whitehead has always been a diverse novelist, moving between historical fiction, science fiction, social realism and post-modernism. Yet, with these novels, it seems as if he has found a groove he can inhabit and expand at the same time
Stuart Kelly, Scottish Mail on Sunday
More page-turning, perfect prose from the double Pulitzer prize-winner
Grazia's Summer Reads
Colson Whitehead is one of the most talented storytellers in contemporary fiction, and watching him switch his approach and flex new muscles is a wildly entertaining reading experience
Los Angeles Review of Books
Fierce and glorious ... Sentence by brilliant, funny sentence, a masterpiece
Whitehead's gift for sudden, often grotesque eruptions of violence is omnipresent, so much so that you almost feel squeamish to recognize this book for the accomplished, streamlined, and darkly funny comedy of manners it is . . . It's not just crime fiction at its craftiest, but shrewdly rendered social history
Crook Manifesto examines how families work in the face of indifference, chaos and hostility
Irish Examiner
Literary titan Whitehead's Harlem Shuffle is one of the best New York novels in recent memory, one of those books one doesn't want to end, so it's a real treat to have a sequel
Publishers Weekly, Best Summer Reads
Whitehead captures the menace and the beauty of the city in exhilarating detail within the many-faceted, rollicking plot that propels his second, magnificently vibrant and transcendent Ray Carney novel. Readers will hunt for any new book by Whitehead, but the newest in his Harlem saga will be sought with particular zeal
Blending family drama with history and culture, the sequel has the feel of a Quentin Tarantino movie
Independent, Best Summer Books 2024
Full of the same sharp edges and biting humour that infused Harlem Shuffle . . . another hugely enticing read
Independent, Best Books for July
Carney remains an appealing, amoral hero: a not-quite-innocent. Whitehead's New York, too, is masterfully characterful. It has intelligence, wiles, predatory cunning....And it hands down great, blunt judgements...For my money, Whitehead's crime series is one of the most enjoyable streaks in recent fiction...Crook Manifesto gave me something I had missed in recent reading: joy
Whitehead has a talent for creating ambiguous, complex scenes that fix in your memory
Evening Standard
Highly charged . . . colourful and captivating
Woman's Way, Ireland