three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
46-May-June-2010
user_rating: 
0

A Leonid McGill Mystery

A-Known to EvilBest-selling crime novelist Walter Mosley is the creator of the Easy Rawlins series, which features the hard-boiled African American detective in ten novels and one collection of short stories. Known to Evil is the second book in Mosley's new Leonid McGill series, after The Long Fall ( 3.5 of 5 Stars July/Aug 2009).

The Story: World-weary Manhattan private eye Leonid McGill, a former boxer with a shady past, is trying desperately to stay on the straight and narrow when he receives a late-night call and a case he doesn't dare refuse. "The Big Man," a mysterious, behind-the-scenes power broker at City Hall, asks him to find a young woman whose sudden disappearance seems to be connected to a violent murder, although McGill isn't sure how and his new client isn't talking. Leading him through New York City's seedy bars, notorious pool halls, and squalid back alleys, McGill's search lands him in hot water with the mob and the NYPD while sorely testing his dedication to his new life.
Riverhead. 326 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 9781594487521

San Antonio Exp-News 4 of 5 Stars
"Throughout the tale, the spotlight shines best on the brutish McGill, armed with a keen intellect and always anchored to his serpentine past. Mosley continues a fine tradition of chronicling tales of common sense men, drawn into invading and investigating life beyond their own troubled worlds." Vincent T. Davis

Seattle Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Mosley's invigorating, staccato prose and understanding of racial, moral and social subtleties are in full force here." Adam Woog

Los Angeles Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Once the architecture, as grand and opulent as the Tesla building where Leonid keeps an office, is in place, then the real, twinned pleasures assert themselves: Leonid's continued search for redemption amid corruption, and the nuggets of wisdom seeping through, sentence by sentence. ... Like the Easy Rawlins novels, Mosley's new detective canvas informs us about what it means to be a man of endless struggle." Sarah Weinman

St. Louis Post-Dispatch 3.5 of 5 Stars
"McGill makes good company for readers. ... For all of his world-weariness, McGill seems destined to entertain us for a number of books to come." Harry Levins

NY Times Book Review 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Mosley uses his plot like clothesline, stringing up scenes that barely touch but look great flapping in the wind. His characters are something else, though. Like McGill, they live and breathe genre lingo, even when they're just talking with their fists." Marilyn Stasio

Critical Summary

Although critics continued to lament the end of Mosley's former series featuring Easy Rawlins, they were generally pleased with the second installment of his latest. Mosley, a consummate storyteller, has full command of his plot and distinct prose, and McGill shines as the troubled, complex narrator trying to make amends despite the corruption and vice that surround him. Readers will savor McGill's razor-sharp insight and shrewd, if melancholy, outlook on life. A few minor complaints arose: Mosley doesn't quite succeed in evoking the Big Apple, and some of his characters are a bit too reminiscent of former creations in previous books. However, the critics enjoyed their time spent with Leonid McGill and his dysfunctional entourage, and they look forward to more.