Crook Manifesto: Book Review

Today, we will be reviewing Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead. It is the second book in the Ray Carney series as he navigates the shady world in New York City. Keep reading to find out if you should read this book next!

Crook Manifesto Summary

In 1971, Ray Carney wants to get some Jackson 5 tickets for his daughter but he can’t find any throughout the normal means. That leads to Carney turning to some shady connections in order to secure the tickets. But little does Carney know that he has become a part of something that makes him a target of various criminals as a result.

In 1973, Carney is approached by an old friend who wants to shoot a scene of his Blaxploitation movie in his store in Harlem. But things end up going south as the lead actress goes missing. Pepper, Carney’s friend, is tasked with finding her as he navigates the underworld of New York City.

Crook Manifesto novel New York city Crime
Crook Manifesto book review

In 1976, Carney tries to go after the firebugs of Harlem who are burning down apartments and building for insurance. That leads to Carney seeing how corrupt the city is and how the rich are benefitting off the residents of New York City. But Carney won’t stand for it as he tries to take them down. But they won’t go down without a fight.


This novel continues the journey of Ray Carney from Harlem Shuffle, the first novel in the series. Each novel takes place in a different decade as we follow Carney’s life in Harlem. The novels also capture the change of the city throughout the decades and how the people in the city adjust to the changes around them.

If you love New York City, then this book captures the magic of the city and the people with a lot of attention to detail. The city feels like another character in the book and Whitehead pays as much attention to his characters as he does to the city and the physical changes as well as economical, and political.

The novel itself is a fun adventure as we follow Carney and Pepper as they are pulled back into the shady world. Even when they don’t want to, they realize that you can’t just walk away. They try to protect what they hold dear and realize that they aren’t as untouchable as they thought.


You may know Whitehead as the author of two Pulitzer Prize winning books. Yet, his other novels are also must reads and Crook Manifesto is one of those books. It captures old New York City with a fun twist into the criminal world and is a book that we recommend highly. Happy reading!

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