Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Long Fall

So I just got done reading a book by Walter Mosley called The Long Fall.
I'd heard Walter Mosley's name before, but I'd never read one of his books before, and now I feel like I've probably been missing out on some really cool stuff for a long time.
The Long Fall is a good old fashioned noir detective story that takes place in modern day New York. It's a book that's definitely character driven, told from the first person perspective of a street smart, witty, well spoken African American ex-boxer gumshoe named Leonid McGill.
McGill is the sort of character that people are either simply going to like or not like, without much room for indifference or apathy inbetween. McGill tends to speak in absolutes and aphorisms, typically with no small amount of perception and insight. At times, though I couldn't help wondering whether a real life Leonid McGill might run the risk of seeming a touch arrogant or overbearing. In any case, as a character, I found McGill to be a fun person to spend time with.
The Long Fall is clearly meant to be the first of a book in a series, and I gather that Leonid McGill has been fleshed out after first appearing in a supporting role in some of Mr. McGill's earlier work. As a result, I'm not exactly sure how many of the people in The Long Fall have previously appeared in other Mosley novels, but regardless, the sizable number of intriguing characters in the book really add color and richness to the world that McGill inhabits. Given the fact that the actual plot of The Long Fall isn't all that groundbreaking (striving to keep true to traditional noir storyline as opposed to trying to break new ground), an interest in the characters themselves becomes that much more important.
Fortunately, Mosley is adept at breathing life into characters and making you care about them. His central figures have ambiguities, nuances, and quirks that make them much more than the stereotypical noir figures that might have taken shape in lesser hands, and Mosley manages to infuse a great deal of vibrancy into the more "minor" supporting characters as they move alongside the major ones, even when giving us only small glimpses into their lives.
Anyway, I liked The Long Fall. I recommend it, especially if you're into detective books and/or noir. It's a book which feels thoroughly contemporary while holding true to the stylings of traditional noir, and it's a quality addition to the genre- a good read, with characters and stories that sucked me in and pulled me along.

3 comments:

The League said...

So I'm going to borrow this, okay?

J.S. said...

I'm tempted to let you borrow it because you would probably like it, but, on the other hand, I get so tired of getting books back from you with question marks above all the big words and flip animation doodle art in the margins...

The League said...

Look, I get stuck on the big words. That's why mom bought me that Word Explaining Book. That dickshumerry thing.