Chester Himes was a crime fiction writer whose own life story was nearly as interesting as his books. He grew up in Cleveland and attended Ohio State University. He fell afoul of the law and was convicted of armed robbery. He began writing in prison and started selling stories to the pulps then Esquire Magazine. That eventually led to an early parole. The rest is crime fiction history.
Here are two of his books featuring Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones: