Thursday, February 25, 2010

THE LONG FALL - Walter Mosely

First line: "'I'm sorry, Mr. um?..." the skinny receptionist said.

Leonid McGill is trying to go straight, or at least straighter than he's been most of his life. These days he's working as a P.I. His most recent case involves locating four men given only the street names they donned in their youth. After he's located all the men and they start turning up dead, LT, as his friends like to call him, receives a visit from a stranger trying to kill HIM. So, Leonid starts tracking backwards. The man who hired him was using a false name and when Leonid finds him, the man is dead. All his leads turn into dead ends, but if he doesn't find out what's going on, he may very well be the next dead end, himself.

THE LONG FALL is the first book in Walter Mosley's new Leonid McGill series, and he's off to a smashing start with this one. McGill is a former boxer who was also involved in a very shady occupation. However, he's decided to "go straight" as a P.I. McGill is also father to three children, of which only one is his biological child. And his marriage is essentially dead, but he remains in the union. The depth of McGill's character makes understanding him as much a part of the mystery as the crimes of the plot are.

The plot of THE LONG FALL weaves several storylines together, all directly connected to McGill. In addition to finding out who is killing the men he located, McGill is trying to prevent his son Twill from making a grave mistake that, while intended for the best of reasons, would forever alter Twill's life.

The language of Mosley's prose is the greatest of the strengths in this novel. The way that he blends the beauty of language with the rough, harshness of the characters, the crimes, the streets of New York, it mimics the dynamics of his protagonist. One of my favorite examples of this is early on in the novel when Leonid is talking about boxing:
" Throwing a punch is the yang of a boxer's life. The yin is being able to avoid getting hit."
Not only is that a wonderful metaphor, but it sets the tone for the whole novel: black and white, male and female, good and bad, rich and poor. Mosely is examining the intricacies of their relationships. Yes, they create a good deal of gray, but the gray comes from the blending of those extreme opposites.

THE LONG FALL is a perfect example of how a writer can continue to write, continue to grow, and continue to do all of it well. Walter Mosely has done just that, and I look forward to the next outing with Leonid McGill.

I listened to THE LONG FALL on audio, read by Mirron Willis. Willis did a fantastic job with this narration, bringing out the distinct characteristics of all the characters. His tone and pacing seemed to match the character and plot that Mosley has created. Penguin did a nice job of matching the reader with the book on this project.

THE LONG FALL is available from Riverhead Books in hardcover (ISBN: 978-1594488580) and from Penguin Audio in unabridged audio book (ISBN: 978-0143144205). A softcover format should be available next month.


Joe Barone February 25, 2010 at 10:56 AM  

I'm a great fan of Walter Mosley. I think he is one of the very best of the mystery writers I read.

I too recommend this book.

rhapsodyinbooks February 25, 2010 at 4:24 PM  

I read this and also really liked it! I especially liked the ways in which race so aptly came in and out of relevance, depending on the circumstances, but never took over.

Corey Wilde February 25, 2010 at 5:29 PM  

Great review, Jen.

Cherry March 25, 2010 at 5:45 AM  

Came over from Cym Lowell's McLinky links for Book Review Party Wednesday.

Thriller suspense is not my genre of reads but you make this book convincingly good even to non-suspense readers like me :)

Thanks for sharing your views! Great review!!

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