Sunday, January 22, 2012

All I Did Was Shoot My Man

According to the Uncorrected Manuscript copy from which I read it, All I Did Was Shoot My Man is scheduled for a January 24 release.  Mr. Mosley is in Houston this week for a couple of bookstore appearances and I hope to catch one of his presentations, as I enjoy hearing him speak about his work.  This is the fourth book in Mosley’s Leonid McGill series.

Walter Mosley has created some memorable characters over the years, particularly Easy Rawlins and Leonid McGill, and I have enjoyed following them over the years.  For me, a Walter Mosley novel is as much about the personal evolution of his regular characters as it is about the crime stories that anchor them.  That’s an especially lucky thing for me in the instance of Mosley’s new one, All I Did Was Shoot My Man, because while the reader learns a lot more about McGill and his family, plot development suffers a bit from what I see as over-ambition for it.

That is not to say that the plot, on its face, is not an intriguing one.  Leonid McGill is a complicated man, and there are some things in his past of which he is not especially proud.  One of those things is his direct involvement in framing a young woman for a crime that sent her to prison and forced her to give her baby up for adoption.  Now, that woman, Zella Grisham, is being released from Albion prison, and Leonid wants to help her to a good start on the rest of her life.  He is at the Port Authority Bus Station to meet her when the prison bus arrives, hoping to convince Zella that he is there to look out for her best interests.

Unfortunately for Zella and Leonid, others are also interested in her release – and the bulk of $58 million dollars that disappeared in the crime that sent her to prison.  Leonid, himself wondering who walked away with all that money, begins to push a little too hard on some of the parties he suspects, and soon has a trail of international hit men chasing him and Zella – certainly, an interesting plot upon to write a mystery around.

Book Jacket photo of Walter Mosley
I was distracted from the main plot, however, by two choices that Mosley made.  First, he threw so many strangely named characters into the pot (many of whom are in and out too quickly to make much of an impression on the reader) that I became confused just when everything should have started coming together in my mind.  Second, too much of the “action” comes to the reader second-hand by having one character recap in conversation with another things that happened offstage – always a boring device.

Those will be minor flaws to many readers, I suspect, but to me they were disappointing.  Still, this is a key addition to the Leonid McGill mystery series and fans of the series will not want to miss it.

Rated: 3.0

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