By Ayo Anotade
(Reiew of 1st edition of The Jook)
Welcome to the destructive world and lifestyle of Zelmont Raines, a one time Super Bowl wining all Pro Receiver. Raines once had a string of wealthy endorsement deals but these were terminated as a result of a statutory rape charge. However, his life has also become a complete mess as a result of his over indulgence with crack cocaine, expensive brandy and a fondness for entertaining sports groupies. While trying to maintain his lifestyle he also has to contend with three failed stints in a drug rehab unit, a paternity suit, a recurring injury and some misguided investments. Raines soon begins to accept as true the fact that the good times (for him) have come and gone.
Back in LA after falling out of the European League, he finds his one last chance is with the Barons an expansion team. Zelmont realises that apart from the fact that that he will no longer be making huge amounts of money, but that he will also no longer have the cry and adulation of the crowds and the female company that he has been used to. Zelmont’s problems continue when he is fingered for the murder of his girlfriend Davida and the religious football commissioner who is less than enamoured with his off the pitch behaviour is determined that he will not play pro-football again.
Raines soon realises he has met his match both morally and sexually when he encounters and falls for Wilma Wells, the smart, but devious and attractive lawyer for the Barons. While Zelmont is sexually attracted to Wells, his gut feeling tells him to stay well away from her, but somehow he can’t. Wells has hatched a scheme to rip off the mob-connected owners of the team and Raines desperate for money and always on the look out for ways of making a quick buck soon finds himself drawn into the plan along with his bisexual friend and former defensive tackle Napoleon Graham. Wells leads Raines into a world where the lines of violence that takes place in professional football can be considered to be insipid in the face of automatic weapons and constant double crosses.
If you like your crime novels full of greed, gritty, realistic and with lots of anatomically correct sex then this is the book for you. The Jook is an excellent and enthralling standalone novel from one of the best in the genre of noir there is no honour, no respect, no love but plenty of money. It contains so many elements that will please readers. From the profanity loaded street talk, to the end of the novel which is certainly reminiscent of a Jim Thompson novel and the homage that has without doubt been played to black-exploitation films, The Jook is more of a violent crime novel than anything else. While funny at times as well as being violent the reader is led on a ride that makes for entertaining reading.
In no way shape or form is this a politically correct novel, but who cares? It was not meant to be. It is a crime novel that not only makes you think twice about becoming an athlete, but shows what happens when pro-football and venal ambition collide in the end zone. If you read and loved King Suckerman then you will love this book as well.