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For fans of Colson Whitehead and Wild Women and the Blues, Viper's Dream is a gritty, daring look at the vibrant jazz scene of midcentury Harlem, and one man’s dreams of making it big and finding love in a world that wants to keep him down.
Harlem, 1936. Clyde “The Viper” Morton boards a train from Alabama to Harlem to chase his dreams of being a jazz musician. When his talent fails him, he becomes caught up in the dangerous underbelly of Harlem’s drug trade. In this heartbreaking novel, one man must decide what he is willing to give up and what he wants to fight for.
Viper's Dream is a fast-paced story that is charged with suspense. A snappy, provocative voice and a stark look at Viper’s Black American experience weave with endless plot twists to offer readers a stunningly original, achingly beautiful read.
About the Author
Jake Lamar was born in 1961 and grew up in the Bronx, New York. After graduating from Harvard University, he spent six years writing for Time magazine. He has lived in Paris since 1993 and teaches creative writing at one of France's top universities, Sciences Po.
Praise for Viper’s Dream:
“[A] moody noir . . . Lamar’s primary strength is his sense of place.”
—The New York Times
“[A] taut saga . . . Hard not to wolf down in a single sitting.”
“[A] gorgeous portrayal of that “sweet b---h Harlem” over three dark, vibrant decades.”
“[A] hard-boiled plot . . . lovingly recreated.”
—The Times of London
“Superb period thriller that's up there with the great US crime writer Chester Himes."
“With its African-American gangster anti-hero, Viper's Dream is reminiscent of Ray Celestin's jazz-oriented thrillers and similarly introduces real jazz greats into a fascinating mélange.”
“Jake Lamar’s wordsmanship and the vitality of his choices are beyond reproach . . . A gritty and ultra-realistic view of our history.”
—Bolo Books Review
“The well-developed, colorful characters come to life through lyrical, gritty dialogue capturing the beautiful and brutal world of one of NYC’s most iconic neighborhoods . . . A gripping, unforgettable, and fascinating thriller.”
—Historical Novels Review
“Fun, fast-moving and full of unforgettable characters . . . a fiercely captivating novel that you’ll never want to wake up from . . . With love, ambition, and fate as the novel's main chords, Lamar conjures a controlled chaos only achievable by a master of his craft, just like the jazz greats. What a trip!”
—Mateo Askaripour, New York Times bestselling author of Black Buck
“Dark poetics, magical prose and meticulous storytelling—Viper’s Dream is way more than a crime novel. It is an intriguing seduction. A revelation.”
—Stephen Mack Jones, author of the August Snow thriller series
“Laced with a stiff shot of politics, romance and jazz, Viper’s Dream is moody, poetic and immersing.”
—Deborah Levy, author of Swimming Home
Praise for Jake Lamar:
"A fearless young talent to keep your eye on."
“[Lamar's] unique storytelling makes for a lively read.”
—People Magazine, on Ghosts of Saint-Michel
“Resonates with the time-honored search for truth.”
—New York Times
"Lamar is a skilled tactician...The situations and relationships are believable and sharp."
—The Washington Post on Close to the Bone
“Lamar is, indisputably, one of the master writers of his generation.”
—Kevin Powell, Editor, Step Into A World: A Global Anthology of the New Black Literature
“A page-turner of a murder mystery with a clear, breezy style . . . both caustically funny and a shrewd take on racial politics.”
—The New York Times, on If 6 Were 9