The Devil's Hatband (CJ Floyd Series #1)

The Devil's Hatband (CJ Floyd Series #1)

by Robert Greer
     
 

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CJ Floyd slides through the neon Denver night in his pride and joy - a two-toned '57 Bel Air with John Lee Hooker on the tape player and the cool air rushing through the open window. CJ smokes cheroots, wears a straw Stetson and a black leather gambler's vest. CJ is no gambler. He's a hardworking bail bondsman and sometimes bounty hunter, and he always plays the odds.…  See more details below

Overview

CJ Floyd slides through the neon Denver night in his pride and joy - a two-toned '57 Bel Air with John Lee Hooker on the tape player and the cool air rushing through the open window. CJ smokes cheroots, wears a straw Stetson and a black leather gambler's vest. CJ is no gambler. He's a hardworking bail bondsman and sometimes bounty hunter, and he always plays the odds. When two well-appointed black men come to CJ's office across the street from the Denver County Jail, CJ listens to their pitch, takes their offer, and prepares for the worst. A young woman, the daughter of a federal judge, is mixed up with a gang of radical environmentalists, and a Boston company is anxious to get the girl - and some secret documents - back. Leaving Denver for the snow-covered mountains, CJ knows there's another side to this story. And when the girl turns up dead, he finds it. In a land of big vistas and a frigid blue sky, a battle between landowners and environmentalists has already turned deadly. And the stakes are higher than anyone knows because an extraordinary scientific discovery has fallen into the wrong hands. A madman is armed with a microscopic killer that can wipe out a way of life - and anyone who gets in the way. From the streets of Denver's Five Points community, where the smell of soul food wafts through the air and proud business people fight for their survival, to the old-time ranchers who have sown the land with their sweat and blood, CJ Floyd moves between disparate worlds in his own search for the truth.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Crimes against cattle and cars feature strongly in this muddled but undeniably original debut starring CJ Floyd, a black Denver bail bondsman and sometime bounty hunter. Hired by a couple of corporate troubleshooters, CJ searches for the missing daughter of a black federal judge, figuring that his clients are less interested in Brenda Mathison than in some documents they say she stole. Brenda is a leader of PlanetFirst, a gang of animal rights fanatics who've been tormenting some ranchers. The group's ranks also include two hard cases who share Brenda's bed at various times, and who have in their possession a new killer virus that could effectively wipe out the cattle population. By the time CJ arrives at Brenda's rural cabin, she's dead on the floor, wearing a barbed-wire necklace. CJ's subsequent investigation is as much a ritual of revenge as it is a battle for controlling rights to the virus. Greer packs in a few too many subplots (a slow romance with a woman at a diner; a feud with a Denver gangster), and he reiterates too often what we already know: that a black man like CJ knows justice isn't blind. But his narrative is taut and the characters-the tough CJ and others-are intriguing. Though Greer could easily have jettisoned a hundred pages and still retain a slick-functioning mystery, his first work, for all its excesses, leaves a reader hungry for more. Author tour. (Mar.)
Thomas Gaughan
When the daughter of a black federal judge gets carried away with her militant environmentalism, Denver bail bondsman and sometime bounty hunter C. J. Floyd is hired to retrieve her and the important documents she possesses. But when C. J. finds her, she's been strangled with the devil's hatband--a length of barbed wire--the symbol of the cattle industry she wants to destroy. The body count mounts as C. J.'s search for the murderer makes him a target for environmentalist crazies, gangbangers, police, and even a deadly, genetically engineered virus. This is a first novel, and the first in a series, and it's a worthy debut. C. J. is the archetypal lone-wolf American private eye; he's smart, tough, principled, and complex in the best Philip Marlowe tradition. But C. J. is African American, and his Denver 'hood is a fascinating place filled with lovingly drawn characters. Author Robert Greer has a winner on his hands, and librarians should tout C. J. to patrons who scour the new fiction shelves for hard-boiled mysteries.
Kirkus Reviews
As the lowest-ranking member of Denver's Bail Bondsman's Row, CF Floyd doesn't see much big money. But he's offered a serious bonus for retrieving Brenda Mathison and the unspecified document she's run off with from her eco-terrorist buddies of the Grand River Tribe—and the pot only gets bigger when he finds her dead, and her father, a federal judge, hires him to track down her killer. The most likely suspect is Grand River guru Dennis Deere, who plans to bring the region's cattle industry to its knees with a villainous toxin likely to be as fatal to cattle hands as to their four-legged charges. But CF also has to watch out for local gang leader Raymond Hicks, a.k.a. Razor D, whom he figures has trashed CF's prize '57 Bel Air and would like to do the same to its owner—especially after he sees that a witness to the vandalism won't have to wait around to die of some cattle toxin. Though his supporting cast is big without being distinctive—you may have lost track of the killer by the time he's unmasked—first-novelist Greer shows a piercing awareness of the countless kinds of racism that keep CF permanently behind the eight ball.

Walter Mosley Lite, then, with big-sky action substituting for Mosley's sense of creeping urban nightmare.

From the Publisher
"Greer gives his tale a true ring of authenticity as CJ Floyd descends into a storm of corporate greed and ecological passion in this deftly written first novel."
-Seattle Times

"The Devil's Hatband is one of the most thought-provoking debut mysteries in years."
-Phoenix Tribune

"CJ Floyd is the archetypical, lone-wolf American private eye, smart, tough, principled, and complex in the best Philip Marlowe tradition."
-Booklist

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780446404853
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
03/01/1997
Series:
CJ Floyd Series, #1
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
4.16(w) x 6.81(h) x 0.82(d)

Meet the Author

Robert Greer lives in Denver where he is a practicing surgical pathologist, research scientist, and professor of pathology and medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. He edits The High Plains Literary Review and reviews books for KUVO, a Denver NPR affiliate. Learn more about Robert Greer at www.robertgreerbooks.com.

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