cover image Hoodlum


K'wan, K'Wan Foye, . . St. Martin's/Griffin, $14.95 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-312-33308-9

K'Wan's gritty latest (after 2004's Street Dreams ) follows the fortunes of two brothers whose ghetto mafia family crumbles under the weight of murder and disloyalty. Tommy Clark runs the streets of Harlem with an iron fist (though his dad, Poppa, who's been "laying his gangsta down for thirty-something years," is still king), and he's poised to inherit the family "business." But then Tommy's younger brother, Shai, turns up, kicked out of college for betting on the basketball games he starred in. Though Poppa discourages Shai from street life, his stubborn, competitive kid has other plans, and pretty soon Shai's hustling the streets with fearless friend Swan and getting busy with local girl Honey while Tommy and Poppa run a risky heroin side operation, encouraging animosity within opposing underworld factions. When Poppa is murdered, it paves the way for the brothers to exact their retaliation in a spray of bullets, while crooked cops close in on Tommy for an execution-style murder. With every page soaked with street-smart vernacular, K'Wan's fourth novel delivers another aggressive, bloody portrait of unrepentant urban outlaws. (Aug.)