- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Really Great Books (September 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1893329046
- ISBN-13: 978-1893329041
- Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,804,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Jook Paperback – September 1, 1999
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Zelmont Raines scored the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl and was an All-Pro receiver with a string of endorsement deals. Unfortunately, he also likes to smoke crack, quench his thirst with top-shelf brandy, and entertain the fine ladies who hang out with the stars. Three stints in drug rehab, a paternity suit (guilty), a hip injury, and some misguided investments in gangsta rap have Raines thinking the good times are over. Then he meets his match--sexually and amorally--in Wilma Wells, the lawyer for the Los Angeles Barons. She's scheming to rip off the mob-connected owner of the Barons and enlists the aid of the cash-hungry and always-horny Raines. She leads him into a netherworld where the between-the-lines violence of professional football pales in the face of automatic weapons and double crosses. Phillips, author of the acclaimed Ivan Monk series, takes elements of Jim Thompson (the ending), black-exploitation flicks (the profanity-fueled dialogue), and Penthouse magazine (the sex is anatomically correct) to create an over-the-top violent caper in which there is no honor, no respect, no love, and plenty of money. Anyone who liked George Pelecanos' King Suckerman is going to love this even-grittier take on many of the same themes. Wes Lukowsky
"Gary Phillips is my kind of crime writer." -- Sara Paretsky, author, Windy City Blues and the V. I. Warshawski Stories
Top customer reviews
THE JOOK is a modern hardboiled novel that contains a healthy (or should that be unhealthy) dose of violence, drug-taking, swearing and sex scenes. It's a tremendously fast-paced story set in Los Angeles amongst the seedier members of the cities rich and famous. As mentioned earlier, the story is told from the perspective of Zelmont Raines, an ex-NFL wide receiver used to living the kind of life a multi-million dollar salary could provide. But those high earning days are over. He has found himself short of money and decides that a return to football would provide him with the cash injection he needs.
The problems standing in the way of Zee and a return to the NFL are many and significant. The first is his chronic hip injury that forced him home after an attempt on the European NFL. The next is his womanising that has landed him with an unwanted paternity suit and an even less desirable statutory rape suit hanging over him. The last and definitely not the least problem is his use of drugs, the original cause of his retirement from the NFL.
Thanks to his appalling past record of behaviour and the wish of Julian Weems, the NFL commissioner who is trying to clean up the game's image, Zee is cut from the team he is trialing with and expelled from the NFL altogether.
Predictably, Zee is a seething mass of hatred, ready to lash out any way possible at his tormentors, namely Julian Weems and the owner of the new NFL franchise team the LA Barons, Ellison Standanko. As it happens, Zee's best friend Napoleon Graham is planning to rob Standanko of around 6 - 7 million dollars. Not only is Standanko the owner of the LA Barons but he is also a big time crook and Napoleon has information about how and when he moves his ill-gotten gains. This information comes courtesy of Wilma Wells, the lawyer for the new team and the love interest for Zee.
Zee, Nap and Wilma then set about putting their bold plan into action, but of course, nothing in the life of Zelmont Raines seems to run smoothly and with every win in the operation comes a loss. Without giving away any of the ending, it's one heck of a wild ride for all involved.
So, while in essence this is a hardboiled crime story featuring a robbery, it's also a detailed look at the hard living done by a high profile sportsman. It's a tremendously fast-paced book. Raines lives the life of a celebrity sports star and so always has a party to go to or a girl to meet. But he also dabbles in shady street deals and brawls in pool joints, not to mention his role in the main game - the robbery. Keeping up with Raines may leave you a little breathless by the end of the book.
Gary Phillips uses language to great effect in helping to describe the type of person Zelmont Raines is. He has obviously risen from a life in the poorer parts of town, a fact that is confirmed when he muses about how his life may have turned out if he hadn't become a pro ball player. The tone created by this constant use of slang is one of barely contained violence. It seems that at any point in the story, all hell is about to break loose. Because the one big problem with Raines is that, although he acknowledges all of his problems - drugs, alcohol, womaniser etc, he appears totally powerless to overcome them.
It was funny how my feelings changed for Zelmont as the story progressed. At the start I felt as though he was the misunderstood hero of the story who was smart enough to get his act together and had some sort of control over his life. Then gradually, it slowly dawned on me that he wasn't the great thinker that I first assumed he was. By the end it became obvious that he was simply grabbing at any life saver that was tossed to him in a bid to prolong the good life that he had grown used to. Rather than rooting for him to win, I just felt sorry for him.
It's rough and it's violent and it's definitely hardboiled. For those who don't mind getting down and dirty amongst some of the more depraved sides of life, then this will be a very enjoyable read.