VIOLENT SPRING by GARY PHILLIPS
trade paper $15.95 ISBN 1-930997-87-6
In the wake of the Rodney King beating and the subsequent riots, L.A. is a racial tinderbox. When the body of a murdered Korean shop owner is discovered during the ground-breaking ceremony of what is intended to be part of the city’s healing process, private eye, Ivan Monk gets involved in the case. Given the prevailing atmosphere, everyone assumes a racial motive but as Monk probes deeper it seems like greed is nearer the mark. Monk meets resistance on all sides - the Korean Merchants Association, the FBI, the LAPD and an assortment of street gangs. So many of the ethnic groups outside the power structure are interdependent and would be strong united - yet they resent each others presence and it is in the interest of those on top to keep the disparate groups squabbling. This is the milieu in which Monk works - perceived one minute as an Uncle Tom and the next as a militant black agitator. But in the end he perseveres to a bloody conclusion in which the only colour that matters is the green of cold hard cash.
Michael Connelly: “Gary Phillips writes tough and gritty parables about life and death on the mean streets.”
Kirkus Reviews: “Enlightening… hard-boiled… a bloody conclusion.”
Portland Alliance: “Interesting, lively dialogue, strong characters… shows how racism is used as a means of social control.”
“Every sort of person that the world has to offer has his, or her, enclave in Los Angeles. Every race, religion, ideology, personality disorder, and passion has a foothold there. The diversity is dizzying and it takes a special kind of hard-boiled hero to keep his footing while negotiating those fast-paced streets.
“Ivan Monk is that hero. He’s seen too much to think he’s seen everything. He’s hurt too much not to be moved when he witnesses pain. Monk knows that it’s already too late when he’s been called. All he can do is put together the pieces so we can see the decay that our world has suffered.
“In the tradition of Hammett’s Continental Op, Ivan Monk takes on a corrupt world. He’s ready to go down fighting, and he makes us feel the war he’s waging is for our own salvation”
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GARY PHILLIPS has been a community activist, a union organizer, a printer, taught incarcerated youths, a nonprofit director, and worked in electoral campaigns.
Phillips writes in several mediums from novels to comic books and screenplays. His current projects include penning the adventures of Gen X private eye Nate Hollis in Angeltown, a comic book mystery mini-series series from DC Comics’ Vertigo line that will drop in November.
His most recent work is a collection of his Ivan Monk short stories, Monkology, out now from Dennis McMillan Publications. And bangers, an unflinching look at bangers on both sides of the law is available from Kensington.
In May, 2003, Gary was awarded the Chester Himes for his works at the 8th Annual Chester Himes Black Mystery Writers conference in Oakland. It ain’t an Edgar, but what the heck.
Gary lives in L.A. with his wife Gilda, their surly teenaged children Miles and Chelsea, and the semi-useless dog, Mitzy.