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A HARD BOILED SNAPSHOT: GARY PHILLIP'S ASH DARKER THAN NIGHT



Ash Dark As Night is Gary Phillips' second book featuring "One Shot" Harry Ingram. The photojournalist and sometime process server in 1960s South Central is a hero who perfectly fits for the author's skills and interests. Ad Harry's ambition and awareness grows, so does Phillips breadth of storytelling.


He tosses us right into the fire, literally, as Harry snaps off shots in the middle of The Watts Riots. Harry records the police killing a local activist and gets beaten and his cameras destroyed for the trouble. However, with the help of his girlfriend, Anita Claire, he salvages the damning photo, making him a celebrity and local hero in his community.


As he recovers from his wounds, he gets an offer to pay some bills with his other set of skills. He's hired to find Mose Tolbert, the white owner of a building supply company in good standing with those in South Central, but who went missing during the riots. Harry's search leads to Gavin Rickler a gambler and entrepreneur who runs several card clubs. Soon, Harry is up to his ears in dirty politics, dangerous folks, and Police Chief Parker's shadowy intelligence unit as he has grown more unpopular with the LAPD. If that isn't enough, Claire could be a part of bank robbers.


The positive Kirkus review compared gary to Walter Mosley, stating he more interested in evoking a worlds than in storytelling. I disagree on both counts. Gary creates his world mainly through story telling applied to historical knowledge. As harry uses his friends and associates in his community to uncover the mystery the reader experiences that's going down in it and greater Los Angeles. If Mosley is Chandler with poetic words creating a. L.A. of mood and social awareness, Phillips is Hammett, hitting us with a clean, straight prose style that goes for the gut. While the other author is primarily meditative in portraying his world, Gary's writing is about engagement.


Ash Dark As Night takes you into a place and time through propulsive narrative. Gary tackles one of his most epic tales in terms of plot, involving reveals, subplots, character relationships, and history conversing with unabashed genre fiction. He keeps it all clear and keeps it moving, taking us along for one exciting and educating time travel to a part of history most of us still don't know enough about. I can't wait for Gary and Harry's next





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