01 May 2015

Revisiting a long-admired author

Long ago, just after Bill Clinton had been elected president, he called Walter Mosley one of his favorite authors.

I remember thinking, "Walter who?" Then I went out and got a copy of Devil in a Blue Dress. I was hooked and read many more of his books. Then Mosley spoiled me in 1997 by writing Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned. It was so good, I nearly stopped reading Mosely's books. He's written over 30 books since '97. I've probably read three or four.

Half Price Books had a Mosley book on the shelf for $5.00. That's less than the cost of a paperback these days. I went for it. The book is All I Did Was Shoot My Man, A Leonid McGill Mystery.

The book jacket touts this as "a tale about what it means to be a family." Family has been a vital part of all the Mosely books I've read and Leonid McGill's family is diverse, troubled, and loosely bound. The woman who hires him, a private detective, to answer some old questions is part of a family that includes her late husband, the man she may have shot.

Like the other Mosley main characters I've read about, McGill is nearly overwhelmed by the events and troubles his family gets involved in. It's difficult for me to imagine how this guy functions from day to day. Somehow, in Mosley's story telling, McGill does function and survive, although not always happily.

My imagination may not be adequate to understand everything in the story. After all, I'm an old white guy from small town Minnesota. Mosley could pull the wool over my eyes without half trying as he writes about New York City and the former small time "fixer" that McGill is. But somehow I trust Mosley's perceptions and story telling. This was a good story well told. Check it out at a library near you (or ask for my copy).

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