Few crime fiction writers have caused so much controversy over the potential of the genre, as well as its limitations, as Chester Himes. Credited with being the first black American writer who redefined the traditionally white-authored hardboiled detective story, Himes challenged readers with his graphic portrayal of Harlem and the provocative images of two black police detectives, Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones, who are noted for their brutality. But how should we interpret Himes’s own ＂modus operandi＂ in creating his crime novels? Especially in ＂Blind Man with a Pistol＂, readers have long been puzzled by the extremely degrading portrayal of Harlem and the gradual loss of agency of the two detectives throughout the story. Contrary to some critics’ claims that Himes’s writing reflects his racial self-hatred and plays into racist stereotypes, this paper argues that the author chose to disturb readers by exposing the daunting face of black life in a downtrodden Harlem. Instead of offering racially uplifting figures in the tradition of Du Bois’s ＂talented tenth,＂ Himes underscored the appalling end product of racial oppression and economic exploitation in capitalist society. His appropriation of the hardboiled detective tradition serves to foreground the cause of the pervasive violence and corruption in a racialized urban space. The two detectives cannot exercise individual agency like their white counterparts, as their ＂private eyes＂ are restricted by the fact that they are part of the ＂public eye,＂ which is itself the mechanism that results in the violence and disorder around them. Like certain metaphysical and postmodernist writers of detective fiction, Himes consciously disrupted and dismantled his narrative structure in order to offer up political critique. Yet ＂Blind Man＂ is not mainly concerned with the questions of being and knowing in a self-reflexive way; instead, Himes’s unconventional development of the narrative and his refusal to offer closure should be read as his attack on racial injustice and a way of reminding readers of the crimes that emerge in a racist power structure.
少有作家像卻司特海姆斯（Chester Himes）一樣，讓犯罪小說類型規則的潛能與限制激盪出這麼多火花。他是首位大動作改寫白人硬漢犯罪小說的黑人作家，作品視覺風格強烈—紐約哈林區黑禍蔓延，二位黑人警探暴力嗜血。我們要如何解讀海姆斯的小說創作？特別是《盲人擁槍》（Blind Man with a Pistol），哈林區集污穢猥褻之大成，警探主角甚至隨著故事進展失去能動性。有論者指出，海姆斯的書寫反映出種族自我仇恨，替種族歧視者的刻板印象火上加油。但本文以為，海姆斯藉由再現都會貧民窟生活的種種不堪與變形，讓讀者在閱讀過程中感到惶惑不安，進而認知到，哈林區會變成讓人驚懼的畸形怪物，原因無他，正是長期受到種族壓迫與經濟剝削的結果；二位偵探無法像主流白人私探主角一樣發揮功能，是因為他倆被迫執行對己身不公不義的律法，暴露法律與秩序的荒謬性。作者刻意擾亂崩解偵探敘事結構以提出政治批判的策略，與某些後現代或反偵探犯罪小說作品有相似之處，但是海姆斯關注的焦點，並非如前述作品一樣強調挑戰理性思考傳統或是探究知識的侷限性；本文認為，應將海姆斯刻意拒絕提供任何型式的結局，視為作家對美國種族不公義的終極批判，刺激讀者省思這種傾斜權力結構下製造出來的醜惡罪行。