Books: Harlem Idiom

GO DOWN DEAD by Shane Stevens. 236 pages. Morrow. $4.95.

At 16, Adam Clayton Henry is loaded with esoteric knowledge learned from life, not books. He knows the rituals and rules of gang fighting, which are as elaborate as the code duello. He plays it cool under the scrutiny of the head-breakers (police) and can find his way to black-and-white parties in Greenwich Village pads. He knows every malodorous inch of the eight-block Harlem area that is the Playboys' turf, and he has earned the nickname "King" by taking over the leadership of the gang from Raven, who had fatally misjudged a...

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