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The First Leonid McGill Mystery

A-The Long FallWalter Mosley is best known as the author of the Easy Rawlins mystery series, about an African American detective working in postwar Los Angeles (see Blonde Faith, 4 of 5 Stars Jan/Feb 2008). The Long Fall is the first book in a new series set in Mosley’s present hometown, New York City.

The Story: A good mystery protagonist always needs problem-solving skills, but private investigator Leonid McGill may have more problems than most PIs. He is trying to go straight after years of being a pawn for the mob and, all things considered, a pretty nasty guy. Although married, he knows that two of his three children are not his; the rent for his office is dirt cheap, but his landlady, an ex-lover, is scheming against him; on top of these issues, someone is killing the four men a client employed him to find. Like Easy Rawlins before him, McGill provides an interesting perspective on race and class in America while also trying to figure out whodunit.
Riverhead. 320 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 1594488584

San Francisco Chronicle 4 of 5 Stars
"There’s a lot of plot to keep track of in The Long Fall, but the pleasures of the novel come not mainly from its narrative mechanics but from McGill’s first-person perspective on race and class in an America on the verge of electing its first black president. … If The Long Fall is overstuffed with incidental characters whose importance may not be obvious until later installments, that’s a minor flaw. Having retired Easy Rawlins, Mosley has devised a worthy successor in Leonid McGill." Michael Berry

South FL Sun-Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"While Easy was a good man who was often forced to do bad things, Leonid is, at heart, a bad man trying to do good. … The Long Fall is just the beginning of what should be an invigorating new series." Oline Cogdill

Chicago Sun-Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"[Mosley] keeps McGill in proper perspective by pulling back on his intuitive ability, so that the crime does not just solve itself. As a result, the reader quickly becomes immersed in the story line, groping along with the hard-boiled PI as he begins to connect the dots." Jeff Johnson

NY Times Book Review 3.5 of 5 Stars
"While nowhere near as charming as Rawlins, McGill is easy to like, given the character-building temptations that come his way as he tries to be an honest investigator and a good family man. … All things considered, McGill is someone you can definitely settle down with." Marilyn Stasio

USA Today 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Fans won’t be disappointed. … Like Rawlins, McGill is more tantalizing than the plot Mosley concocts around him. Still, The Long Fall is a well-written twists-and-turns story that runs up to a satisfying conclusion." Carol Memmott

Critical Summary

Perhaps inevitably, every reviewer attempted to assess how Leonid McGill compares to Mosley’s beloved (but now retired) protagonist Easy Rawlins. In general, critics were pleased, if a little stunned, by the two characters’ stark differences. Yet every reviewer was satisfied with Mosley’s masterful abilities to construct an intriguing mystery around any kind of character. A few reviewers complained that the plot and the character development of The Long Fall were somewhat convoluted. However, as one critic noted, this novel still does the things the first book in a successful mystery series must do: it establishes a character that can solve today’s caper, and it shows readers the character’s inner personal flaws that let them know that greater ordeals lie ahead.