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Buzzed Books #29: And Sometimes I Wonder About You

by John King

And Sometimes I Wonder About YouI am primarily a reader of literary fiction. It is where the joys and the fun of reading tend to be for me. Like many literary readers, I have a deep, complicated affection for hard-boiled detective fiction, à la Dashiel Hammett and Raymond Chandler. The blunt brutality, bold psychology, and flourishes of purple style are compressed into a lovely textual cocktail by the form of the mystery, the plot that is itself a chase after a question mark. Characterization is both impressionistic and elusive—precisely as elusive as the mystery, usually.

One of the hallmarks of contemporary detective fiction is the shortness of chapters, which makes the form even more compressed. This would seem to deepen the challenge of the genre even more than classic hard-boiled detective fiction—or highlight the genre author’s flaws. Read the rest of this entry »

Walter Mosley comes to Liverpool in Transatlantic 175 week

Acclaimed American author is Writing on the Wall guest as part of One Magnificent City
Walter Mosley comes to Liverpool in Transatlantic 175 weekAmerican author Walter Mosley is making a rate UK appearance when he comes to Liverpool next week as part of the Writing on the Wall festival.

The 63-year-old is making a special trip from his home in New York to take part in ‘An Evening With’ event at Liverpool Town Hall as part of the American Dreams programme to celebrate Cunard’s 175th anniversary through the One Magnificent City programme. Read the rest of this entry »

Seattle Times: New crime fiction

By Adam Woog, Special to The Seattle Times

This month’s selection of crime fiction features two memorable private eyes and a square-jawed veteran of World War I.

Walter Mosley is renowned for his Easy Rawlins mysteries, but And Sometimes I Wonder About You (Doubleday, 288 pp., $26.95) falls into one of this prolific author’s other series — and it’s equally exhilarating.

Leonid McGill is a gumshoe with a past: The “post-black” P.I. grew up on New York City’s mean streets and is forever seeking to atone for past sins. He’s also got a remarkably messy personal life (many kids, mentally unstable wife, multiple affairs, politically radical father, etc.).

McGill, powerful but short, also has a strange mental tic: precisely describing the height of every man he meets. (Full disclosure: I am also height-challenged, but I like to think I’m not as preoccupied about it as McGill is.)

The book’s plot includes a gorgeous woman in danger, a Fagin-like mastermind with a network of child criminals, and a murdered homeless guy. Mosley doesn’t resolve these complex stories neatly, but then he’s never been as interested in plotting as he is in creating vivid characters and bracing, rat-a-tat prose — both of which are in abundance here.

(via Seattle Times)

Leonid McGill juggles perils of personal, professional life

BOB CUNNINGHAM 
Blade Staff Writer

And Sometimes I Wonder About YouIf there’s anything that defines the modern world, it’s the ability to multitask.

The better you are at it, often the better your professional life is for it. Not your personal life, mind you. That’s a different story.

When the two are intertwined and depend on your broad shoulders, even though you’re only 5-foot-6? You better know your way around the ring, as well as Manhattan.

Meet Leonid McGill, Walter Mosley’s modern-day, New York-based private investigator. In And Sometimes I Wonder About You, McGill has even more on his plate than usual.

For starters, McGill’s wife, Katrina, is recovering in a sanatorium after a suicide attempt. His revolutionary and mysterious father, Tolstoy, whom Leonid hasn’t seen since he was a boy, is lurking somewhere in the shadows.

McGill’s son and partner, Twill, has taken on a much-too dangerous case and needs his father’s help. Plus, there’s Hiram Stent, a sad sack of man who tried to hire McGill to find his cousin for a vast sum of money. McGill turns him down and Stent turns up dead, which ultimately puts Leonid on the case.

Am I missing anything?

Oh yeah, while traveling for another case, McGill meets the beautiful con artist Marella. She makes his heart ache for his old ways as a fixer in the crime world. A few other friends — Gordo, Mardi, and Bug — have their issues. Even pal Hush, a former assassin, needs McGill’s life advice.

All in 272 pages.

If you didn’t know any better, you’d think it was Mosley, not McGill, who’s the former boxer — the way he bobs and weaves from chapter to chapter, sidestepping deadly blows and delivering his own devastating combinations.

In last year’s standalone Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore, I compared Mosley to Thelonious Monk because of his unmatched rhythm. But with McGill — And Sometimes I Wonder About You is the fifth book in the series — boxing great Sugar Ray Robinson may be the better comparison because pound for pound there’s no one who can touch him. Certainly not McGill’s enemies and not the police trying to cash in debts past due. He outwits those who underestimate him and he overpowers his aggressors, and he knows how to get answers when he’s short on time and tired of the hustle: by putting his gun on the table.

No, he’s not above scare tactics to achieve his own personal justice. And yet he’s a big softy when it comes to the many women in his life, as well as his family.

Leonid McGill is someone you want in your corner.

Contact Bob Cunningham at bcunningham@theblade.com or 419-724-6506.

(via The Blade)

Shelf Awareness for Readers “And Sometimes I Wonder About You” Review

In 2009, when Walter Mosley launched his Leonid McGill detective series, there was some question as to how well the historical ambience of his Los Angeles and the in-your-face investigative style of his Easy Rawlins would travel to a new protagonist in contemporary New York City. With And Sometimes I Wonder About You (his fifth McGill novel, after All I Did Was Shoot My Man), Mosley proves that his talent and feel for the city streets–their violence, outsiders, racism, sex and chicanery–travel just fine. McGill is a short, mid-50s PI with a checkered criminal past, a pugilist’s big hands, friends in high and low places, and a tendency to find trouble when a pretty woman catches his attention.

In this book, his wife, Katrina, has been institutionalized after a suicide attempt; his long-time girlfriend, Aura, has told him to stay away out of respect for Katrina’s struggles; and a ravenous new young client, Marella, gives him all the bedroom action he can handle. Since running off with her big-bling engagement ring, Marella is hiding from her former fiancé’s hired thugs who have been threatening her life to get it back. Meanwhile, McGill’s adopted son, Twill, is in danger from a subterranean juvenile crime ring, led by a ruthless gangster, Pied Piper. And a laid-off accountant needs protection from Boston assassins because of the seedy dirt he accidentally uncovered about their wealthy boss’s son. McGill sums up his predicament: “There were three groups of killers after me or mine and three women I had feelings for. None of these people stayed in the right place or were likely to wait their turn.” Bodies pile up, wrongs are righted, lessons are learned. When Mosley’s good, he’s really good. And Sometimes I Wonder About You is one of his good ones.

—Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: Mosley’s fifth Leonid McGill mystery features plenty of New York City crime and McGill punishment to keep readers going late into the night.

Doubleday, $26.95 hardcover, 9780385539180

(via Shelf-Awareness.com)

Book review: ‘And Sometimes I Wonder About You’

Never a dull moment with McGill

BY DREW GALLAGHER/FOR THE FREE LANCE–STAR

And Sometimes I Wonder About You“And Sometimes I Wonder About You” is Walter Mosley’s 49th novel. Odds are that most readers will be only fortunate enough to read a handful of Mosley’s books, and that’s if their reading schedule allows them to ever read any at all. They should make room in that schedule. In fact, just about every time I finish a Mosley novel I think that a year spent reading only his books would be an interesting way to spend “A Year of Walter Mosley,” if you will.

But if you don’t have the time or inclination to read all 49 Mosley novels, “And Sometimes I Wonder About You” can serve as an example of what Mosley does exceptionally well—entertain the reader.

“And Sometimes . . .” is the fifth Leonid McGill mystery and finds that, although the New York City-based private investigator may be slowing down, his caseload is not. Work always seems to find McGill and with it usually comes a healthy dose of trouble and a muzzle or two placed on his temple or in his rib cage.

“I was beginning to detect a pattern in my life. This model of behavior was a hybrid of capitalist necessity and proletarian existentialist angst; or, more accurately, modern-day potentates and their anger-driven gunsels.”

Though McGill and his cases are always interesting, a lot of the fun in reading Mosley comes from his descriptions and language. For example: “. . . and a love seat made for very small lovers or maybe one fat-bottomed solipsist.” Shakespeare would have been proud of that line.

McGill always seems to be juggling three or four cases at a time, and when “And Sometimes . . . ” opens, it looks like he’s about to enter a short expanse of leisure time with nothing on his day planner—until the most beautiful woman he has ever seen takes a seat next to him on a train.

He knows she’s trouble from the moment he sets eyes on her, but McGill figures we all have to die someday, and there are much worse ways of going than in this woman’s company.

Of course the woman in the train comes with the anticipated trouble and then there’s his son, Twill, an aspiring PI like his father, who seems to have uncovered a city-wide ring of criminals more heinous and foul than any McGill has encountered previously.

The woman and the ring of criminals have more in common than one might anticipate, since they both require a lot of thinking over cognac and afford McGill very little sleep. It is, after all, a Walter Mosley novel.

Drew Gallagher is a freelance reviewer in Spotsylvania County.

(via fredricksburg.com)

NY Times Sunday Book Review: ‘And Sometimes I Wonder About You’

Walter Mosley breaks every rule in the private-detective-story stylebook in his new mystery featuring Leonid McGill, AND SOMETIMES I WONDER ABOUT YOU (Doubleday, $26.95). His New York sleuth’s disorderly domestic affairs keep threatening to overwhelm the crime elements, and a vital piece of the plot isn’t introduced until midway through the book. And when Mosley does wrap things up, he makes no effort to connect any of the multiple subplots.

So why the devotion? To begin with, McGill is one of the most humane (and likable) P.I.s in the business. He’s a short man, and every time a male character is introduced McGill automatically estimates his height. (“Just a centimeter or two north of six feet”; “Standing face to face, we were the same height”; “Medium-­sized. . . . but with bad posture.”) Although he hesitates to call himself a family man, he’s dedicated to his clinically depressed wife and the brood of grown children he considers his own. And despite being a hard man with a rough past, he does his best by his clients, even taking on the posthumous case of a despondent man he regrets turning away: “I could afford to do a good deed for some poor schlub down on his luck.” Read the rest of this entry »

Publisher’s Weekly Pick of the Week: And Sometimes I Wonder About You: A Leonid McGill Mystery

And Sometimes I Wonder About YouAnd Sometimes I Wonder About You: A Leonid McGill Mystery by Walter Mosley (Doubleday) – Leonid McGill slogs his way through a morass of personal and professional problems in Mosley’s outstanding fifth mystery featuring the New York City PI (after 2012’s All I Did Was Shoot My Man). People giving him trouble include a modern-day Fagin, who’s entangled with McGill’s son Twill in some criminal enterprises; the ex-fiancé of a woman McGill is involved with; and a client he rejected. Women have always complicated McGill’s life and continue to do so: his emotionally fragile wife, Katrina, is in a sanatorium after a failed suicide attempt; his sometime lover, Aura Ullman, is keeping her distance; and he’s attracted to the beautiful Marella Herzog, whom he meets on the train from Philadelphia to New York. McGill deals with his professional problems with a combination of brute force and wiliness, while the women in his life tie him in emotional knots. The return of his father, Tolstoy McGill, the left-wing revolutionary who abandoned his family years ago, roils McGill even more than the women.

Author Mosley to present ‘contrarian’ lecture at UNLV

Mosley will visit Las Vegas May 7 to speak at a program sponsored by the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute. The program begins at 7 p.m. in the ballroom of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Student Center. Tickets are free at the door.

Learn more…

The Future of Reading: There’s No Mystery About It

Walter Mosley, best-selling author of the Easy Rawlins series, has good news for those who love to read

Walter Mosley, best-selling author of the Easy Rawlins series, has good news for those who love to readReading is among the most distinctive practices in human history: the study of abstract symbols used to render beliefs, experiences, physical descriptions, theoretical explanations and ideas in books and newspapers, on billboards and even on TV screens.

Written language rigidly codified and yet continually changing affords us one of the few chances we have to exercise and challenge our intelligence and our minds, our creativity and our capacity for true empathy. Reading forces us to interpret the material world through a nonconcrete medium—the written word. These interpretations force an active, even an aggressive use of our minds. This usage increases our appreciation of knowledge and possibly our sophistication.

Where to?

This uniquely human tradition is infinitely complex, equaled only by the experience of love and learning on the job. The stories and the content gleaned from reading are different for any person picking up the same book. This is because reading has two components: the words written and the individual mind reading.

It is important to lay out this understanding of reading in order to answer the question, Where will reading be in 30 years?

In the modern world of fast-changing technology and technique (a world where knowledge might double twice in a year’s time) change has become the norm. We’re used to having our devices, methods of war and even the organization of society change every six or seven years. Our communication is dominated by electronic networks, our cancers treated by new and strange poisonous brews.

In the modern world, a world where our scientists can read and alter DNA molecules, what is to become of Winnie the Pooh? How can books compete with predator drones and 10,000 channels of mainly sports and pornography?

What will happen to the poor books and newspapers, magazines and letters from home in a world where there is too much to know and no time to waste?

The answer is: Nothing will happen. Reading will still be based on the ABC’s, and readers will still marvel at the ideas and passions forming in their minds.

Read the rest of the essay on WSJ.com