A Negro and an Ofay


In 1952, after a year on the run, disgraced Chicago Police Officer Elliot Caprice wakes up in a jailhouse in St. Louis. His friends from his hometown secure his release and he returns to find the family farm in foreclosure and the man who raised him dying in a flophouse. Desperate for money, he accepts a straight job as a process server and eventually crosses paths with a powerful family from Chicago’s North Shore. A captain of industry is dead, the key to his estate disappeared with the chauffeur, and soon Elliot is in up to his neck. The mixed-race son of Illinois farm country must return to the Windy City with the Chicago Police on his heels and the Syndicate at his throat. Good thing he’s had a lifetime of playing both sides to the middle.

AIMS: The Tales of Elliot Caprice

I set out to tell a story about a man apart—a reluctant hero who simply desires space to breathe in a world that suffocates those it cannot use for its own ends. What price excellence when it neither provides freedom nor acceptance in an America that needs you, but doesn’t want you, and maintains no safe place for you?

“Elliot Caprice was no Talented Tenth. In fact, the common disparagement was, while he may have looked somewhat white, and occasionally sounded white, he was all nigger. He took it as a compliment.”

Elliot Caprice resists all notion of being exceptional, and yet he refuses to part with his exceptionality. It is that refusal that compels him to swiftly and boldly act in the face of right and wrong.

“It’s wrong, and it happened in front of me. That makes it my business.”

I made Elliot Caprice a man with an innate sense of justice and then bore him into a world where no justice can be afforded him because of his race and class. As I write his tales, I explore what, if anything, could happen to bend him. I fully expect he would sooner break than bend. Until he does, we are in for an amazing series of adventures.


“A Negro and an Ofay is a smart, crisp, historically accurate, and unapologetically racial narrative that signals the arrival of a strong, necessary voice in crime fiction. Danny Gardner is a superb storyteller with a knack for dialogue and a fearless author who knows what he’s talking about. This is the best debut you’ll read in a long time.”

Gabino Iglesias, Author of Zero Saints

“Hard-boiled don’t get much harder than this. Danny Gardner hits all the right notes, but with enough swagger and voice to make it completely his own. Elliot Caprice is a fantastic character, stuck between worlds—black and white, good and bad—and I really hope to see more of him.”

Rob W. Hart, Author of New Yorked, City of Rose, and South Village

“Immersive, poignant and utterly enthralling. Written from the middle of America’s great racial divide, it’s satirical, cool and irrevocably honest; imbued with an inherent nobility that rivals any modern day hero.”

Tom Avitabile, Author of The Eighth Day

“One of the best items Gardner has in his toolbox when blending his themes and story elements is his sense of humanity. We feel for his characters because he always has something heartfelt to say about them. Every person Caprice encounters evokes some sort of memory or emotion. There’s a deeply rooted thought about each moment that Gardner digs out. In fact, Gardner seems to rely more on emotional response than descriptions when setting up his scenes, and it works. It’s what draws readers in and keeps us turning the page.”

Scott Waldyn, Literary Orphans Journal

“This young author is not only the heir apparent to Chester Himes and Walter Mosley, but the subtle social commentary laced almost invisibly within the beautifully crafted saga of an African American police detective fighting the ramifications of a frame that derailed his career, along with routine racism in 1950s Chicago, shows the promise of a contemporary James Baldwin or Ralph Ellison.”

Will Viharo, Digital Media Ghost

“—it manages to be smart, historical, and about identity/racial issues while retaining all the entertainment value that pulpy thrillers bring to the table. This is a book with a carefully crafted plot that touches on a lot of issues that were as relevant six decades ago as they are now, but it’s also a hell of a fun read packed with jazz, fights, sex, and the kind of dialogue that makes readers remember the name on the cover.”

Out of the Gutter Review

“This is a stunning debut! A powerful combination of brilliant story-telling and a breathtaking grasp of dialog subtext that strongly reminds of Mamet. Danny Gardner is destined to become a big name in this writing game.”

Les Edgerton, Author of The Bitch, The Rapist, The Genuine, Imitation, Plastic Kidnapping

“There’s a naturalness and ease about this book despite a complex and dense plot. It flows effortlessly, and the dialogue has a wonderful cadence to it. I feel like if Gardner told me a tale on the spot, it’d be surprising, dramatic, and entertaining. To me, that’s a born storyteller, and it comes through loud and clear in this electrifying debut.”

Sarah M. Chen, Author of Cleaning Up Finn

“Elliot Caprice is a trouble magnet and that makes for a great character.”

Simon Wood, Author of The One That Got Away

“Plenty of hardboiled patter and a dense plot with a great sense of place and wonderful dialogue.”

Eric Beetner, Author of Rumrunners and Nine Toes in the Grave

“It finds a way to address issues of race and class without getting sidetracked, and, in fact, builds these issues seamlessly into the plot instead. What results is a totally unique detective in Elliot Caprice, who struggles with issues that feel both familiar and totally alien to the genre, not to mention the reader.

Michael Pool, Crime Syndicate Magazine