This is book number 6 in the Grave Digger and Coffin Ed series.
Black flim-flam man Deke O'Hara is no sooner out of Atlanta's state penitentiary than he's back on the streets, working the scam of a lifetime. As sponsor of the Back-to-Africa movement, he's counting on the big Harlem rally to produce a big collection - for his own private charity. But the take ($87,000) is hijacked by white gunmen and hidden in a bale of cotton that suddenly everyone wants to get his hands on.
With Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones on everyone's trail and piecing together the complexity of the scheme, Cotton Comes to Harlem (made into a film in 1970) is one of Himes's hardest-hitting and most entertaining thrillers.