I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of Walter Mosely’s When the Thrill is Gone, the third book in his Leonid McGill series, at the library. This time, private detective Leonid McGill is approached by a local millionaire’s wife, Chrystal Tyler. She claims that her husband is trying to kill her and hires Leonid to protect her. Only the rough and tough Leonid does some digging and discovers she’s not the millionaire’s wife at all.
Similar to Known to Evil, the book before this one, Leonid plays detective without knowing all the details. He’s not sure who his client is. He doesn’t know who to protect and who to go after. He’s not sure who’s his friend and who’s his enemy. Compared to Known to Evil, the details of the case are even blurrier with When the Thrill is Gone. In other words, 90 per cent of the mystery is figuring out what the case is.
There’s also a lot more mention of Leonid’s father, a socialist revolutionary named Tolstoy. Leonid spends a lot of time remembering his father’s words during troublesome times. But Tolstoy becomes a much more central character in this book despite being long dead. Mosely continues to write comfortably while alternating between soft, heart-touching moments and bloody murder scenes.
While Leonid spends too much time thinking he’s rough and tough, you still route for him every step of the way. When the Thrill is gone is like a Rubik’s cube whereby you spend days twisting and turning but it’s not until the last few minutes that everything comes together.
I found myself re-reading the last couple pages because the everything unfolds so quickly and involves so many characters. But like a good detective novel, it’s not so much about solving the case than it is about how the case is solved.