Criminal Minded A Novel

Tracy Brown

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

304 Pages



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A YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

Lamin Michaels learned at his mother's knee the importance of chasing paper, so it's no surprise he gets into the drug game when he's just a teenager. When he meets Zion, a product of the New York City foster care and prison system, Lamin knows that he has met the perfect partner in crime. Together, they build a huge narcotics empire.

Then, Lamin falls hard for a beautiful girl named Lucky. Lucky makes Lamin realize that there is more to life than cash and more cash. When Lamin goes legit with a career in the entertainment industry, Zion tries to keep their business going on both the street and the boardroom. It's not long before Zion becomes the target of a corruption scandal involving murder, extortion, and money laundering. Once the dirt is exposed, will Lamin and Zion be able to remain one step ahead, or will their paper chasing days haunt them forever?


Praise for Criminal Minded

"Tracy Brown is back with a vengeance! Criminal Minded is a must read, can't put down, smash hit!"—Keisha Ervin, author of Me & My Boyfriend

"Criminal Minded is hands down, the best book I've read in a long time. Tracy Brown has created a masterpiece . . . a banging storyline."—K'wan, bestselling author of Street Dreams
"Lamin and Zion meet in church, where they've been dragged by their grandmother and foster mother, respectively. Their fast friendship grows even tighter after Lamin is put out of his home by his mother and her abusive boyfriend. He joins Zion in a crack-dealing scheme, and soon the teens are living large. Lamin finds romance with rich girl Lucky, and Zion secretly spends time with his friend's younger sister, Olivia. But after Lamin gets shot in a club, he realizes that it's time to get legit. While he is able to use his drug money to finance a career in music videos, his hustling life always threatens to catch up with him. Lamin, Zion, Lucky, Olivia, and Lamin's ex-con cousin take turns narrating the story, a tactic that makes an already fast–paced tale even more of a page-turner. Each character's perspective illuminates the misguided decisions the others make. However, despite their bad choices, readers will root for them. The language and situations are occasionally explicit, but also perfectly in character for these Staten Island young adults. While some of the story lines are pulled from a variety of rap videos and rapper bios, the plot also has unique twists that will keep readers going. Urban fiction is hotter than ever with teens of both sexes, and this is a strong entry in the genre."—Jamie Watson, School Library Journal
"Lamin and Curtis are cousins and have been raised like brothers. When Curtis goes to jail for defending himself and killing a high-school bully, their lives are forever changed. Lamin starts spending Sundays with his grandfather and visiting Curtis. When a new guy shows up at church, Lamin finds a lifelong friend in Zion. Zion has passed through the foster care and prison system and has never really had family. So they become brothers and start a drug-trafficking enterprise that provides big money and a comfortable lifestyle. When Lamin gets shot, he decides to give up the life of a drug dealer and go legitimate. During his recuperation, he begins reading up on the one dream he has always had—to be a film director. Zion is not ready to give up the hustler life but becomes Lamin's silent partner. When Curtis gets out of jail, he is jealous of Lamin's success and his friendship with Zion. Each of these men is forced to deal with his past and pay for his sins."—Lillian Lewis, Booklist

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

  ONElook through my eyesLaminMy cousin Curtis is more than just my cousin. He’s my right-hand man. His moms (Inez Michaels) and my moms (Nadia Michaels) are sisters. But they rarely speak. I like to think of them as flip sides of the same coin. Both of them were single mothers trying their best to raise their children in the midst of a storm. Crack was at epidemic proportions. The Rockefeller drug laws were guaranteeing you a mandated prison sentence of fifteen years (minimum!) if caught with even small amounts of narcotics. And we were sixteen-year-old black boys growing up in the
Read the full excerpt


  • Tracy Brown

  • Tracy Brown is the author of Black and Dime Piece. She lives in Staten Island, New York, and is currently working on her next novel.
  • Tracy Brown
    Tracy Brown