15: The Long Fall

The Long FallThe Long Fall by Walter Mosley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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From the library book sale, Spring 2012:

VPL Spring Book Sale

This is the first book of a new series set in present-day New York City.  It’s narrated by the main character, private investigator Leonid Trotter (LT) McGill:

“Leonid? What kind of name is that for a black man?”

“My father was a Communist. He tried to cut me from the same red cloth. He believed in living with everybody but his family. McGill is my slave name. That’s why I got to do business with fools like you.”

The Long Fall (13)

Because it’s a new series, there’s a lot of establishing of background and setting and character going on. I liked Leonid as a narrator. He’s intriguingly flawed (he has a criminal past, which he’s trying to leave behind) and has an interesting dynamic going on with the secondary characters, especially his dysfunctional family and Aura, the woman with whom he has complicated relationship. However, there were a lot of minor characters that were less developed who were hard to keep track of. So many names! As characters reappear in subsequent books and become more familiar, this should be less of an issue, but it was a problem here.

The Long Fall has a very classic, hardboiled detective feel even though it’s contemporary and Leonid doesn’t shy away from current technology. His personal assistant, Zephyra, calls herself a ‘telephonic and computer personal assistant’ — she works from home making reservations, answering calls & the like for 10-12 clients who she charges $1500/month. Erm, that’s a pretty good job if it’s real. Is it? For 180-216k a year I’ll make your reservations for you. Damn. Life. I’m doing it wrong.

Anyway, the story is that Leonid has been hired to find four men. His client, ostensibly another detective, only knows their teenage street names. He finds the first three easily—one dead, one in prison, one awaiting trial (this is on page 4; it’s not a spoiler)—but has more difficulty with the fourth. The story starts just when he thinks he’s found him and as he’s starting to have suspicions about the motivations and legitimacy of the person who hired him.

I like Mosley’s writing style. You can see the potential for the series in this book. This was a good story, but I think subsequent ones, as Leonid and the other characters develop, will be even better.