Podres, a politician whose record against corruption had been propelling him straight to the mayor's office, is found murdered in a North Philly crack house.
Enter Samuel Jackson, a.k.a. Black -- a drug addict who knows better, a man embittered by the fact that he can't seem to escape from his addiction to crack cocaine or, for that matter, himself. Though he was once a family man with a wife and son, Black's only concern these days is getting his next high -- that is, until he stumbles across a friend and fellow addict, Leroy, and both become prime suspects in the Podres murder. Black and Leroy hook up with two female pipers: Clarisse, a registered nurse who is slowly losing to crack any semblance of a respectable life, and Pookie who already has lost it. Soon the hunt is on for all four as they try to stay one step ahead of a police department under tremendous pressure to solve the case -- because if a killer isn't found soon this could blow up into one of the biggest scandals in Philadelphia history.
As an African-American Iím sorry to say that I usually avoid African-American books. I know that this sounds bad, but they are usually depressing or overly preachy. I am fully acquainted with the "black experience," facing racism and prejudice in todayís society, so I read to get away from that negativity and to enjoy a good book. Pipe Dreams is a book that definitely widens my definition of books to read. Although there is an underlying racist theme in the book (four black, drug addicts were chosen to take the fall for a murder), it's included in a subtle manner. Pipe Dreams makes it seem like whoever would have been in that situation would have taken the fall no matter if they were black, white, yellow, or brown; these people just happened to be black.
Solomon Jones has a genius for satisfying the readerís curiosity as to who these characters really are. His slow, teasing revelations of each character's background adds to the suspense and makes the book more than a form of escapism: a mental and spiritual challenge. I admit that before this book I didnít think of crack addicts as real people. Inconveniences maybe, dangerous sometimes; but people with thoughts, feelings, and emotions, never. After Pipe Dreams, I can never again look at a crack addict as a waste of space or an inconvenience.
Jones is a talented writer who deals with some very touchy subjects with a delicacy and astuteness that few people are capable of. He has a new novel coming out next year entitled The Bridge, another suspense/mystery novel. With the talent displayed in his first work I know that Iíll be looking for his second, and so should you.