Wednesday 14 September 2022




Prison buddies Billy Good and Jackie Walker made time pulling small jobs here and there. Not a bad living if you liked scraping by. The thing to worry about was the next fix. Nothing else mattered.

When Billy and Jackie fell in with Kenyatta, a ghetto lord ready to take back the streets, they thought they'd hit the big time. Dealing with drug pushers and crooked cops in the name of justice sure felt good, but in a world where "kindness was the sweetest con of all", every bullet fired echoed with the sound of payback.

Donald Goines is one of those authors who has been on my radar for a few years without me ever getting around to trying his work. There's over a dozen to choose from. Sixteen in all, most of them penned over a couple of years in the early 70s when he was incarcerated.

Crime Partners is one of about five novels featuring Kenyatta as a Black militant organiser. He's more of a secondary figure in the novel in my opinion, with the main focus on Billy and Jacky, a criminal double act. There's also a couple of detectives  - one black, one white, names forgotten - who drift in and out of the narrative, but whose involvement investigating some of the crimes here, doesn't lead to any significant contribution from them in the outcome. They do play a peripheral part insofar as allowing a junkie who they've been leaning on for street intelligence to peruse their mugbooks to ID a guy. He promptly sells the information for a lot more money than the paltry $20 squeezed from the detectives' own pockets.

I liked the book. It has an incredibly brutal opening. We see the ugliness of drug addiction and the deadly consequences of gettng inbetween an addict and his fix. An innocent pays the ultimate price. Jacky and Billy are appalled and reward it with their own street justice. The cops have three violent deaths to investigate. At the crime scene we get a first hand view of racism up close, as a uniformed cop nearly unloads our plainclothes black detective.

Billy and Jackie get caught up with Kenyatta's scheming, despite not fully committing to his Kill Whitey philosophy. Kenyatta has other targets as well. Firstly killing off the higher ups in the drug gangs. I wasn't quite sure if it was some grand plan to eliminate drugs from black society as they were the scourge of the city, or if it was to create a gap in the market place that he could exploit. 

And secondly wiping out white cops. We have a guerilla style attack on a couple of patrol men that are lured to an isolated location. Two becomes three or four when backup arrives. Kenyatta and his clear don't mess about.

There's a kind of episodic feel to the book, as I don't think the detective's involvement and investigation is over, even as a couple of our character's race is run. Ditto Kenyatta there's more to learn about him.

Violence, street life, poverty, addiction, racism, black militancy, organising, planning, and death. Life seems very cheap. 

4 from 5

Read – (listened to) July, 2022

Published – 1974

Page count – 216 (4 hrs 1 min)

Source – Audible trial with Libro

Format - Audible


  1. I'm not much for brutal violence as a rule, Col, as you know. But it seems to fit in this book's environment. And that's an interesting place/time/culture setting, too. It sounds as though there are a few larger issues explored here, too, which can work well. Glad you enjoyed it.

    1. Margot, it's very much of it's time. It's brutal and violent but it also describes a time where a lot of black Americans probably felt disenfranchised in a struggle for a more equal society. The more militant saw violence as a way of effecting change and being seen and empowered.