Zelmont Raines was once a Super Bowl-winning wide receiver. But recurring injuries, a self-destructive lifestyle and too many run-ins with the law have submarined his career. Back in L.A. after bombing out of the European League, his one last chance is the expansion team in town, the Barons. Unfortunately for Zelmont, the roar of the crowds and the adulation of the fans-not to mention the money and the honeys that go with it-are no longer his for the taking. Bumped, the bitter athlete falls in with Wilma Wells, the smart (and fine) lawyer for the Barons. She's got ideas Zelmont likes...and not just in the bedroom. Soon he and his friend, the switch-hitting ex-pro defensive tackle Napoleon Graham, throw in with Wells to rip off the mobbed-up owner of the Barons. It's only then that Zelmont discovers that no matter how fast he can jook, no matter how tough he can fake, trouble is closing in on him way too fast.
Mix elements of Jim Thompson with the street-smart verve of Donald Goines, add a couple of dashes of the compact delivery of Richard Stark, and you get THE JOOK: a crime novel where football and venal ambitions collide in the end zone.
Publisher: Really Great Books, Paperback (September 1, 1999)
PM Press/Switchblade, Paperback (March 2009)
Territory: North American
Rights Available: Translation; Film/TV
"Phillips, author of the acclaimed Ivan Monk series, takes elements of Jim Thompson (the ending), black-exploitation flicks (the profanity-fueled dialogue), and Penthouse magazine (the sex is anatomically correct) to create an over-the-top violent caper in which there is no honor, no respect, no love, and plenty of money." - Booklist
"Zelmont [Raines]...is a Hall of Fame-quality asshole, unremittingly homophobic, misogynistic and self-absorbed. But he makes no excuses for himself, and neither does Phillips. the result, in addition to some entertaining reading, is a precious quality rarely found in crime novels: ambiguity." - LA Weekly
"Phillips gives you all the necessary elements: thugs all over the place with automatic weapons, beautiful women who always want to have sex, and dishonesty and deceit on nearly every other page. The product of the complex, multilayered plot and Phillip's good writing is a novel that is an absurd yet frank take on the the world of the modern superstar athlete." - The Washington Post
"Enough gritty gossip, blistering action and trash talk to make real life L.A. seem comparatively wholesome." - Kirkus Reviews
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"Gary Phillips writes tough and gritty parables about life and death on the mean streets--a place where sometimes just surviving is a noble enough cause. His is a voice that should be heard and celebrated. It rings true once again in The Jook, a story where all of Phillips’ talents are on display." - Michael Connelly, author of the Harry Bosch books