When his young friend is gunned down yards away from him in what appears to be a drive-by shooting, a jaded PI is determined to find those responsible. He’s not prepared for his investigation to lead him into a large-scale high finance conspiracy that even has government agencies perplexed.
As he tracks his only lead in the shooting, a transgendered boy, the PI encounters street people who live by a code, henchmen who don’t, and the realization of just how far he’ll go for street justice.
SJ Rook is not the slick, polished, alpha-male private detective of pop culture. He’s divorced, broke, war-wounded, and trying to eke out an existence as the muscle of a neighborhood detective agency. He has good gut instinct, but his life is plagued by bad luck and bad decisions. Rook owns his part in the path his life took, even if he’s almost out of optimism. But fourteen-year-old Zaire had potential and a chance at a good life and someone took his chance away from him… and they need to pay for that.
Characters are well-developed and relatable. As he struggles with his identity and place in the world, young Whip has a breezy, youthful outlook on life, even as his life is in jeopardy. Sabrina, daughter of the detective agency owner, is a strong female character who proves women can be feminine and tough. She has Rook’s back even though her life… and his could make a drastic change. Street people Odette and Eddie tugged at my heartstrings because, despite their meager existence, they didn’t wallow in self-pity and looked out for their tribe in a way even some blood relations don’t.
This fast-paced read is gritty and unapologetic. While it is the fourth book of the series and I have read none of the others, strong, detailed writing delivered a story I didn’t feel was missing anything. Rook’s journey to justice will appeal to lovers of crime fiction and suspense, and I do recommend Pauper and Prince in Harlem.
A vulnerable kid. A brutal enemy. An addled ally. Blood runs cold on Harlem’s hottest summer night when drive-by assassins shoot up a crowded playground, killing the teen-aged friend of private eye SJ Rook. Only fourteen, the kid was smart, affectionate, and alive with potential. His sudden death strikes the cynical Rook through the heart. Was this boy the victim of a cruel accident? Or was he targeted by gang hit men in a ruthless display of power?
To find the killers, Rook must enlist the help of another teen, Whip, a mysterious runaway witness. Whip is a transgender boy whose life on the streets has drawn him into the realm of a violent mob kingpin. Damaged by his mother’s rejection, Whip doesn’t want to be found. Not by the cops or by community do-gooders. And certainly not by Rook, a resolute stranger with vengeance on his mind. Rook’s search for the elusive kid becomes a dangerous trek through the meanest corners of his neighborhood.
Racing from desolate homeless camps to urban swamps, from settlement houses to high-rise palaces ruled by greed and corruption, the determined Rook pursues his quarry. An unexpected twist in the detective’s relationship with his crime-fighting partner, Sabrina Ross, threatens to derail his mission. Noble tramps, vicious thugs, and a pint-sized trigger woman also complicate Rook’s efforts to protect Whip. When a mob prince and a hobo hold the boy’s life in the balance will Rook’s grit and imagination be enough to save Whip and bring the killers to justice?
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2 thoughts on “#BookReview “Pauper and Prince in Harlem” by Delia C. Pitts”
Thank you so much for this insightful review!
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You’re welcome, Delia. I enjoyed the read and hope to find time to read the first three books. 🙂