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.
I didn’t expect much of Dead Simple. I had never heard of it but it was part of the goody bag I received at the book blogger event that I attended recently. The author, Peter James, is also the director of the movie Merchant of Venice starring Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Ralph Fiennes. His Roy Grace series stars a detective by the same name who dabbles in the paranormal by regularly consulting psychics to help with unsolved murder cases.
Which may be a reason why his books are named Dead Simple, Look Good Dead, Not Dead Enough and Too-Dead-Easy-To-Make-Up-These-Unoriginal-Titles. But don’t let the cheesy titles fool you, Dead Simple was a page turner. It’s a fast read and I was dying to get to the end of it.
The story is about a bachelor party gone wrong where the groom ends up trapped in a coffin and buried alive. His prankster friends have all died in a car accident after burying him. If that doesn’t make you want to keep reading, nothing will! Add a beautiful fiancee and a business partner that mysteriously didn’t make it to the bachelor party and you have yourself a good story.
Roy Grace is a Brighton detective with a soft spot for a lot of things – psychics, children and women. If you’ve ever seen the British cop love interest from Bridesmaids, you’ve met Roy Grace. He’s just not very macho but he is very loveable. His British slang confused me in the beginning but you get used to it pretty quickly. The book also ends with a car chase which would have been great on screen but in my opinion, car chases suck in a book.
Especially when you’re dying to figure out if Grace will find the missing groom alive.
Walter Mosely is is highly praised for a number of things: 1) for being a bad-ass black writer, 2) for writing about horrific crimes and 3) for being one of the best American writers of all time.
I can confirm that all three of these praises are true! Known to Darkness features a black detective named Leonid McGill who straddles the line of legality dangerously. Involved with the deepest, darkest (I’m not referring to skin colour) criminals, Leonid also has friends in the police and enemies everywhere.
Mosely goes where no one dares go by actually talking about being black. Leonid plays into the stereotypes where it’s convenient because people love when their expectations are reconfirmed. Only Leonid uses all his criminal skills (lying, beating and smiling) to save a girl that a mob boss has asked him to protect at all costs. The twist is that Leonid has no idea how this mob boss knows this girl or if he will hurt her. Oh, and he’s also not allowed to speak to the girl.
What makes Mosely an amazing writer is that he can write well about horrific murders, underworld criminals and the every day nuances of life. From describing a mutilated body to how his cheating wife’s lipstick is smudged, Mosely does it with such care and flair. I will definitely read another book in the Leonid McGill series.
It’s almost Hallowe’en and nothing beats scaring children. I mean, nothing beats giving children candy. And then scaring them. But it’s also really fun to scare yourself. So here are the scariest books I have ever read.
Out – Natsuo Kirino
A group of Japanese women who work the night shift at a company that packages pre-made lunch boxes ban together when a fellow co-worker murders her husband. They rid of the body using all the cutting techniques learned from slicing sashimi. And it’s described in scary, gruesome detail. I couldn’t stop reading it.
This is no slasher novel though. It’s a dark look into the world of criminals in Japan and what living pay cheque to pay cheque really means. (If you’re lucky enough to not be doing the same).
Dracula – Bram Stoker
When they re-released the Exorcist movies a few years back they put the scariest scenes back in because the movie-goer has seen so many scary special effects, you need more to scare them. The scariest scenes were originally removed because viewers had heart attacks.
Dracula has stood the test of the time and remain one of the creepiest, eeriest novels of all time. If anything, the mysterious Victorian era setting makes Dracula even scarier. Done with Dracula? Pick up The Historian for an equally dark modern follow-up.
Columbine – Dave Cullen
There’s nothing scarier than a villain that could be living in your neighbourhood and going to school with your kids. Columbine covers what really happened during the school shooting with commentary from students who were there and investigators.
What’s scariest is not what those shooters did. We already knew that part of the story. No, what’s scariest is how inaccurately the media covered this story.