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Imamu's new friend Olivette, with his seductive mother and his quiet younger brother Pierre, has moved into Imamu's Harlem neighborhood at just about the time the mysterious, polished ""Phantom Burglar"" has begun ripping off rich West Side ofays and dropping a trail back to the neighborhood. But Imamu doesn't make the connection until the end, perhaps because Olivette, with his charm, his ""cultured"" speech to which even the police defer, his high talk about striving for ""perfection,"" brings something new and golden into Imamu's life, inspiring ""the feeling of the world opening up to him."" Olivette helps paint Imamu's apartment in preparation for his alcoholic mother's return from the hospital, gets him bailed out when the two are jailed for nosing around the scene of the burglaries (Imamu hopes to solve the case to get the police off his own back), even tries to reach Imamu's old friend Iggy, a killer just released from prison, whose unredeemable meanness terrorizes the neighborhood. Meanwhile the police are swarming: when Imamu sees the patrol car parked on the block, ""It came to him that around their end of town, they all were under house arrest."" There is evidence that Iggy is the burglar, and Imamu worries that Pierre is also involved when the younger boy begins hanging out with Iggy. Then teenage neighbor Gladys disappears shortly after Iggy has threatened her. Imamu and numbers man Al Stacy, who's soft on Gladys, find her in a crumbling burned-out building days later, beaten and near death. When Imamu does put the pieces together he does a brilliant job of it, and you realize just how subtly Guy has laid her traps. But the crime's solution is not the end; Guy leaves readers with a further wallop, which also comes as a moral poser. This sequel to The Disappearance is more complex and more intriguingly cast, and the rotted neighborhood, like the very different one in the previous book, is not mere authentic background but a force to be dealt with at every turn.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1983
Publisher: Delacorte