Room to Swing

It’s always good news when the U.S. Library of Congress announces the release of a reissued classic. The Library of Congress Crime Classics series features some of the finest American crime writing from the 1860s to the 1960s. Drawn from the Library’s unequalled collections, series editor and mystery expert Leslie S. Klinger has selected scarce and lesser known titles that represent a range of genres, from “cozies” to police procedurals. Priced and formatted for wide readership and classrooms, each volume includes the original text, as well as a contextual introduction, brief biography of the author, notes, recommendations for further reading, and suggested discussion questions. Crime Classics are published by Poisoned Pen Press, an imprint of Sourcebooks, in association with the Library of Congress.

Room to Swing  by Ed Lacy, published by Poisoned Pen Press, in association with the Library of Congress features Toussaint Moore a Black, college-educated, decorated war veteran. When he’s hired by producers of a reality television show to keep tabs on the whereabouts of an accused rapist, the gig goes quickly south; Moore finds the man murdered and himself framed for the deed. Moore flees to the small Ohio town where the dead man committed his crime but encounters a whole new level of resistance and racism as a Black man asking questions in a small-minded, predominantly White town. Using his wits, he sets a trap for the real killer in this  1958 Edgar Award-winning novel.

Ed Lacy was the pen name for Leonard S. Zinberg, a New Yorker who wrote more than 30 Noir crime novels published as paperback originals (“Go for the Body,” “Shakedown for Murder,” “Sin in Their Blood”) and more than one hundred short stories in a career that spanned nearly three decades. He was Jewish, married to a Black woman, a communist for many years, and an early and ardent advocate of civil rights for Black Americans. (Ralph Ellison, who moved in many of the same New York literary and social circles, reviewed Zinberg’s first book in 1940 in New Masses, a Marxist magazine.) When Zinberg died in Harlem of a heart attack in 1968 at age 56, the New York Times reported his pulp paperbacks had sold more than 28 million copies.

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