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Edward Roy
Bullets in The Fire - The Saga of New York Red
Edward Roy, author
A liberated young woman, “New York Red” (Erma Louise Hill,) comes of age during the depression in rural South Georgia under difficult family circumstances. She fights off white rapists and escapes too the high-life in Atlanta within an inch of her life. She moves to New York City and becomes a celebrated Number Hustler, Number Banker and Mafia Associate in Harlem, NY. She fulfils her dreams for her children and herself in New York City by living a life style that resides on the edge of the law. She unapologetically creates her own rules, lives by them and dies by them. But what brought about her downfall?
Plot/Idea: 8 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 7 out of 10
Overall: 8.00 out of 10


Plot/Idea: Written from the perspective of her son, this well-researched memoir covers Erma Hill’s hardscrabble life as she escapes poverty, racism, and violence in rural Depression-era Georgia to ultimately become a famed “Number Hustler” in 1960s New York City. Though parts of the narrative stretch believability, it highlights the power of a woman who champions herself and her children above all else.

Prose: Roy successfully embodies his mother’s voice by creating a consistent narrative style that illustrates her inner complexity and nuances. The historical period is well-captured through attention to vernacular and style.

Originality: The life story of Erma Hill (or New York Red, as she was known in 1960s Harlem) is one of perseverance in the face of both unimaginable abuse at a young age, and the more mundane struggles of adulthood as a single parent. Her rise to neighborhood fame is a testament to her individuality, and the years leading up to her death are a riveting read.

Character Development/Execution: Erma Hill is convincingly depicted as a fierce protector and fighter, for both herself and her children. The reader is privy to her innermost thoughts and beliefs, as well as her unique code of conduct. 

Date Submitted: January 11, 2022