A Negro and an Ofay: The Tales of Elliot Caprice

Screenwriter Danny Gardner is also a professional comedian, but his debut novel is no joke. Gardner's powerful themes, though, are infused with the right humorous undertones, rendering A Negro and an Ofay historical crime fiction at its hardboiled best.

Son of an interracial couple and able to pass for white, Elliot Caprice was left with his black uncle and taken under the wing of a Jewish loan shark in his hometown of Southville, Ill. Elliot's self-doubt and shady background combine with his military and Chicago police department service to leave him with a foot on both sides of the line, and no safe space to reside.

Returning home from the city in semi-disgrace in 1952, he finds his uncle lying ill in a flophouse and the family farm in foreclosure. Determined to keep the property, Elliot takes a job as a process-server. When a local widow offers him a large, one-time payday on the side, he ends up embroiled in the multi-faceted fight over a powerful businessman's estate.

Elliot's story is told from his perspective and focuses mostly on men--blends of friend, foe, hero and villain--yet women are really at the heart of the matter, beginning with Elliot's mother and what her departure meant for her son. Raw and intimate, violent and intense, Gardner's dialogue buzzes with authenticity. A fast-moving crime novel with a soul, Gardner's coming-out party is a dead-bang winner. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

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