As Chester Himes had shown two decades earlier in If He Hollers Let Him Go, the hardboiled noir idiom was well-suited to evoke the pressures and risks of being black in pre-Civil Rights America. Hugh’s upper-middle-class black identity is threatened by the specter of white violence, by the fear of a primordial American racism against which no level of status or attainment can insulate him: ‘It was surprising what old experience remembered could do to a presumably educated, civilized man.’
—Bookforum reviews Dorothy B. Hughes The Expendable Man. Definitely spoils the plot twist, but we love having an author compared to the incomparable Chester Himes. Plus Walter Mosley, Himes’s heir apparent, wrote an afterword for our edition.