Zelmont Raines

Created by Gary Phillips

As The Jook (1999), Gary Phillips’ non-series stand alone, kicks off, ZELMONT RAINES, an African American All-Pro receiver with a string of endorsement deals, is left wondering where it all went. The man who once scored the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl has a blown knee and a weakness for crack, top-shelf brandy, and fine ladies. And after a few stabs at drug rehab, a paternity suit (guilty), and some bad investments, the future isn’t looking too bright either.

Desperate for money, Zelmont’s talked into ripping off the owner of the Los Angeles Barons, an LA expansion team, by the team’s sexy and devious lawyer, Wilma Wells. Along for the ride, and a cut of the action, is Zelmont’s best bud, switch-hitting ex-pro defensive tackle Napoleon Graham.

A hard-as-nails treat, full of violence, sex, greed and double crosses, with echoes of Jim Thompson, Donald Goines, Richard Stark, and George Pelecanos.

Imagine if North Dallas Forty and Blaxploitation had a baby…


The Jook was one of Phillips’ early efforts, but he’s since gone on to become something of a one-man pulp factory, publishing novels, comics, novellas, short stories and editing or co-editing numerous anthologies, including the Anthony-winning The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir (2017), while his debut, Violent Spring (1994), which introduced Ivan Monk, was named one of the essential crime novels of Los Angeles. Other characters he’s created over the years include ex-showgirl turned courier for the mob Martha Chainey, 1960 news photog “One-Shot” Harry Ingram and black LA eye Nate Hollis who appeared in the comic series Angeltown. He’s also been an L.A.-based activist and community organizer for over two decades, dealing with various community empowerment issues ranging from affordable housing to the narco-industrial complex, and his political and pop culture pieces have run in the L.A. Times, the L.A. Watts Times, the Baltimore Sun, the Black Scholar Journal and Rap Pages Magazine, and he served as a story editor on FX’s Snowfall, which dealt with crack and the CIA in 1980s South Central, where he grew up.


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Jan Long for the lead.

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