First-timer Jones travels deep into the drug-fueled underworld of a grim urban Philadelphia in this energetic novel, a neo-noir voyage into violence and injustice. When a popular Puerto Rican city councilman with a stellar anti-corruption record is shot dead in a Philly crack house in September 1992, a citywide manhunt begins. The targets of the hunt are four luckless crack addicts, innocent but doomed by association and reputation. The down-and-out addict and petty thief Leroy was on the scene, along with his sort-of girl, Pookie. Desperate, he turns to his sharper pal Black for help, who in turn involves Clarisse, a still-employed nurse who has only recently turned to crack. The cops pursue all four, looking to wrap the case up fast and easy (while concealing a secret plot of their own). Going back and forth between characters, hunters and hunted, Jones produces a mix like Dragnet meets Chester Himes, stamped by his own experience on the streets. The chase is compelling, but even more involving is the way Jones slowly reveals each character's story, presenting in convincing and heartbreaking detail how each was sucked into dead-end addiction. Clarisse and Black's romance and redemption is too neatly conceived, but this is a promising debut effort. Jones clearly has the stuff to become a major chronicler of the mean streets. Agent, Victoria Saunders. (July 31) Forecast: Jones's own story he escaped addiction to become a journalist and is currently a staff writer at the Philadelphia Weekly is as compelling as his strong first novel, and a seven-city author tour should bring the book to readers' attention. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
This African American urban melodrama tells the story of four crack addicts who after being wrongly accused of murdering one of Philadelphia's leading politicians, a civic crusader against police corruption attempt to escape a seemingly guaranteed death at the hands of an overzealous police force. The tale is indirectly narrated by Samuel Everett "Black" Jackson, one of the addicts, who has finally broken his silence to his court-appointed lawyer just before his trial. While the novel offers a cautionary tale about crack addiction and contemporary police corruption, its plot is not very believable, its characters are depressingly clich d, and its narrative strategy is virtually impossible to explain: Jackson essentially narrates many events he did not witness and could not know about. In addition, the dialog often sounds as if it comes from a police scanner transcript, and minor characters are introduced and then discarded with aplomb. The writer missed an excellent opportunity to offer an in-depth view of contemporary black Philadelphia and its complex problems with drugs, police brutality, and economic marginalization. Recommended only for libraries with comprehensive African American contemporary fiction collections. Roger A. Berger, Everett Community Coll., WA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
A staff writer for Philadelphia Weekly debuts with a searing tale of betrayals, self-betrayals, wasted livesand addiction. The place is Philadelphia, though the setting could be any big city. Everett Jackson (street name: Black), a young African-American awaiting trial for murder, tells the bulk of his story in one long flashback. Black's a "piper"a crack-cocaine addictas is his best friend Leroy. That is, they would be best friends if the all-controlling need for the hit didn't make romantic nonsense out of so humanly natural a concept. As usual, Black and Leroy are broke on this particular night. In order to score, they have to run some kind of scam, which, in its typical inefficiency, is what lands them in the wrong place at the wrong timein a certain crack house where someone has just been murdered. It turns out to be a very important someone: the city councilman who heads the Police Civilian Review Board. He's been lured to his death because a couple of highly placed cops need to discredit him before he can blow the whistle on the corruption that's made them rich. The cops also need scapegoats, a role for which both Black and Leroy, friendless and powerless, seem tailor-made. An all-out manhunt ensues, leading the beset pipers to go underground. Expert at wriggling and squirming, they make it seem for a while as if they might escapebut they don't, and they can't. The thing about pipers is that way down deep they know they don't deserve to. Violence leads to bloodshed and, paradoxically, to isolated patches of something like nobility. In the end, Black's desperate battle against the system, and his own inner demons produces an unsought andaffecting redemption. Despite occasional descents into melodrama, Pipe Dream is the work of a talented newcomer passionate about his material. An impressive debutand a writer to watch. Author tour
From the Publisher
"An impressive debut, and a writer to watch."
"Strap yourself in for a fast-paced, multilayered ride that gets the details right and in the process puts a human face on crack addiction."
Diane McKinney-Whetstone, author of Blues Dancing
"There’s a new Harlem Renaissance, this time from the City of Brotherly Love. Pipe Dream captures perfectly the sites and sounds of the city, thus Solomon Jones takes his place within this new literary movement."
Omar Tyree, the Urban Griot and author of Just Say No!
"Pipe Dream is a phenomenal and honest tale of lives often overlooked and stories often untold. Jones reminds us that the surface-level truth often depends on who’s telling it, and the deeper truth comes only when we’re at peace with the lives we’ve led and the choices we’ve made."
Brian Peterson, author of Move Over, Girl
Read an Excerpt
"Good night, Everett," Clarisse said, trying to hide her paranoia behind a stern mask that was meant to tell Black he was no longer welcome in her home.
But as she began to close the door, she took on a look that seemed to depict a struggle between two separate people-the one who was a principled, respectable professional young woman and the one who was smoking the pipe.
"I'll give you a bundle," Black said, reading her expression and taking a chance that the crack fiend would win the struggle.
The door stopped in mid-swing.
"A bundle?" she said.