Clarence Cooper Jr.'s noir novel, The Syndicate, first appeared in the U.S in 1960, published under pseudonym, but it wasn't until a few days ago that the first U.S. reviewers took notice of the book, including Nancy Oakes at her well-regarded blog, Crime Segments, and Eric Peterson at The Internet Review of Books.
Both reviewers praise the re-release by Molotov Editions as a discovery of a lost classic, from an under-appreciated African-American novelist whose work, as Oakes notes in her review, has received virtually no attention in scholarly references, gaining only passing mention even in "Justin Gifford's excellent Pimping Fictions: African-American Crime Literature and the Untold Story of Black Pulp Publishing, devoted to the works of blacks in the genre." Both Oakes and Peterson likened Cooper to other more well known black writers, inside and outside the genre, while examining the startling depths of this forgotten noir.
"The Syndicate is beyond raw, reaching down into the grittiest depths of darkness," writes Oakes, referring to the twisting plot and character who narrates the tale. "it's what's happening within that is utterly fascinating. We find ourselves inside the mind of a brutal killer, who knows that there's something wrong with him....This lost crime classic is well worth the attention of any crime fiction reader."
Eric Peterson in The Internet Review of Books, writes that Cooper "deserves a place alongside his contemporaries James Baldwin, Richard Wright, and Ralph Ellison."
"The Syndicate is an old-school noir crime thriller narrated by a killer," writes Peterson, "an unusual, potent mix of brutal, fast-paced 1950s pulp noir seasoned with a dash of William Burroughs style surrealism and homoerotic undertones."