A lost crime classic from Clarence Cooper, Jr., a black crime writer from Detroit whose first novel, The Scene, was a literary sensation. Believed to be too raw, and possibly damaging to his literary career, The Syndicate was published under pseudonym in 1960, a hard-hitting, fast-paced story plunging into the psycho-sexual depths of a ruthless enforcer sent to retrieve syndicate money. Cooper’s subsequent work fell into pulp oblivion.
Cooper is a rare figure in crime fiction, a writer whose work--though always transgressive and fatalistic in its view--ranged from narrative-driven noir to more experimental forms, provoking comparison to writers as varied as Burroughs and Jim Thompson.
The Syndicate, in its relentless pacing and dark humor, simmers beneath its pulp veneer with questions about racial and sexual identity that give powerful, paradoxical animation to the character’s ruthless quest.
This is the first U. S. Publication under the author’s real name, with an afterward by Gary Phillips (The Obama Inheritance), including biographical material on Cooper, childhood friend of Malcolm X. Cooper struggled with heroin addiction most of his life, did much of his writing in jail and died on a New York street at the age of 44, alone and strung out, not far from his last known residence: the 23rd Street YMCA.