CHESTER HIMES was born in Missouri in 1909. He began writing while serving a jail sentence for a jewel theft. His early novels were unpopular in America, being too black and too aggressive, and he remained unrecognised. Soon after the Second World War he moved to Europe where he continued to write and soon won international acclaim, receiving in 1958 the Grand Prix Policier which assured his popularity on both sides of the Atlantic. Himes published just short of twenty novels before his death in Spain in 1984.