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The Long Fall (Leonid McGill Series #1)

( 47 )

Overview

The widely praised New York Times bestseller, and Mosley's first new series since his acclaimed Easy Rawlins novels...

Leonid McGill is an ex-boxer and a hard drinker looking to clean up his act. He's an old-school P.I. working a New York City that's gotten a little too fancy all around him. But it's still full of dirty secrets, and as McGill unearths them, his commitment to the straight and narrow is going to be tested to the limit...

...
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The Long Fall (Leonid McGill Series #1)

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Overview

The widely praised New York Times bestseller, and Mosley's first new series since his acclaimed Easy Rawlins novels...

Leonid McGill is an ex-boxer and a hard drinker looking to clean up his act. He's an old-school P.I. working a New York City that's gotten a little too fancy all around him. But it's still full of dirty secrets, and as McGill unearths them, his commitment to the straight and narrow is going to be tested to the limit...

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Editorial Reviews

Marilyn Stasio
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.
—The New York Times
Anna Mundow
After Easy Rawlins and Paris Minton, Mosley's best-known creations, McGill is a welcome conundrum. A detective in the classic noir style—cynical, romantic, doomed—who exists not in the 1940s but in today's New York City…We follow eagerly, seduced by Mosley's laconic style and by a newly arrived hero who seems to have been around forever.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Mosley leaves behind the Los Angeles setting of his Easy Rawlins and Fearless Jones series (Devil in a Blue Dress, etc.) to introduce Leonid McGill, a New York City private detective, who promises to be as complex and rewarding a character as Mosley's ever produced. McGill, a 53-year-old former boxer who's still a fighter, finds out that putting his past life behind him isn't easy when someone like Tony "The Suit" Towers expects you to do a job; when an Albany PI hires you to track down four men known only by their youthful street names; and when your 16-year-old son, Twill, is getting in over his head with a suicidal girl. McGill shares Easy's knack for earning powerful friends by performing favors and has some of the toughness of Fearless, but he's got his own dark secrets and hard-won philosophy. New York's racial stew is different than Los Angeles's, and Mosley stirs the pot and concocts a perfect milieu for an engaging new hero and an entertaining new series. (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Mosley, a master of detective stories best known for his Easy Rawlins series, introduces Leonid McGill, a reformed bad man who strives to hold to his own principles in the roughest situations. Cops don't trust him, hard guys pressure him, and most people underestimate him. His wife abandoned him but now wants him back, two of their kids aren't his, and he's in love with a beautiful woman who's trying to kick him out of his office. McGill is hired to find the names and addresses of four men. Soon, they're all dead, and he wants to know why. The violence escalates, but he refuses to give up. Mosley always tells a compelling story, and this is no exception. But, unlike the Rawlins novels, it has an air of the formulaic. It takes too many digressions to explain McGill's past, and while the Rawlins's Mouse comes across persuasively as a particularly lethal product of the harsh ghettos, McGill's Hush, an ex-hit man who now drives a limousine, seems too good (or bad) to be real. For all its flaws, though, once you start reading this mystery, you won't want to stop. Recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/08.]
—David Keymer

Kirkus Reviews
The creator of Easy Rawlins, Socrates Fortlow and Fearless Jones introduces a new detective struggling to live down his checkered past in present-day New York. Leonid McGill has never killed anyone maliciously, but he's done plenty of other bad things. Still working as a private eye in his 50s, he's decided to expiate his sins by going "from crooked to only slightly bent." So he's not eager to help Albany shamus Ambrose Thurman track down four men for vague and unpersuasive reasons, especially after he learns that one is dead, a second is in prison and a third is in a holding cell. Who pays $10,000 to locate men like these unless some further crime is involved? McGill isn't any happier about finding a union accountant for midlevel mobster Tony "The Suit" Towers. And he's deeply troubled when his computer spying in his own home tells him that Twill, his wife Katrina's 16-year-old son, plans to kill the father of a girl who's been sending him distraught e-mails. But the PI's heart drops to his shoes when he realizes that someone is executing the men he's been hired to locate for Thurman. Plotting has never been Mosley's strong point, but McGill, a red-diaper baby, ex-boxer and a man eternally at war with himself, may be his most compelling hero yet.
The Barnes & Noble Review
Walter Mosley was not the first black crime writer, nor was he the first to fuse genre conventions with larger social concerns. But when Devil in a Blue Dress introduced the Los Angeles-based private detective Easy Rawlins nearly 20 years ago, it was clear the author set out to stretch the boundaries of the mystery and thriller framework. There were larger questions to ask, more ambiguous answers to discover, and as filtered through the complex world view of Easy's own loves and losses, they took on additional and more identifiable resonance for the reader. As what would become an 11-novel epic sequence unfolded, so did one of Mosley's most ambitious aims -- to chronicle the sea changes in American race relations from the end of the Second World War to the beginning of the civil rights movement.

Easy's quest effectively ended with Blonde Faith, but Mosley remains a restless seeker of truth. He's spent his career, with varying degrees of success, flitting in and out of different genres such as science fiction (Blue Light), erotica (Diablerie), young adult (47), and more mainstream fare (the sorely underrated R.L.'s Dream), not to mention prescriptive non-fiction (What Next: An African American Initiative Toward World Peace) and advice (This Year You Write Your Novel). But Mosley's innate compass keeps returning to his true north of crime fiction -- whether embodied in the lighthearted Fearless Jones trilogy of detective novels or the darker, more episodic chronicles of ex-convict Socrates Fortlow. Now, Mosley debuts an auspicious new series teeming with questions more contemporary and more personal, and answers even more difficult to tease out.

"Blood debt is the curse of mankind," remarks one of the supporting players in The Long Fall -- the richest and most pervasive metaphor in a book overstuffed with them. Her sad refrain is directed toward Leonid McGill, a private investigator in latter-day Manhattan who owes his hybrid name to a fervent Communist father, "two inches shorter and forty pounds heavier than a man should be" with a three-day-a-week standing gig in a boxing ring at Gordo's Gym. After "fifty-three years of hard living" Leonid understands the curse of blood debt all too well: "In the years before, I had no problem bringing people down, even framing them with false evidence if that's what the client paid for. I didn't mind sending innocent men, or women, to prison because I didn't believe in innocence -- and virtue didn't pay the bills. That was before my past caught up with me and died, spitting blood and curses on the rug."

No one, least of all Leonid, expects him to morph into a knight errant of pure heart and mind: "Most guys when they see a damsel in a lonely tower want to ride up and save her -- but I knew better. My kind of help shorted out the circuit board, or stripped the gears in your transmission." But the symbolic realization that "all of a sudden you aren't the man holding the gun but about to be shot" leaves him with hope he can lighten the blackened edges of his soul, even a little. So his latest case, to find the last of four men involved in a situation that turned the first three into "rotten apples," will not offer the prospect of redemption, but it will lay bare Leonid's quirky sense of duty and reveal the furious and criminal heart pounding beneath the surface of gentrification.

The sense of duty is most apparent with regard to Leonid's family, a domestic assemblage notable for its chipped veneer and mismatched parts. Its authority is still strong enough to keep him away from Aura, the capable woman Leonid loves and who, inexplicably (to him), returns that love because he is "a man on the road...right out there in the light of day." His wife, Katrina, acts the part of the perfect, kitchen-wizard wife, her spousal deference an ill-fated attempt to repair her part of the mutual infidelity that's lasted for decades. Their African-American/Nordic blonde merger produces three children, but only one -- Dmitri, a taciturn college student who barely speaks to Leonid -- is a true genetic co-production. As a result Leonid spends much time conflicted about his eldest, Shelly's, overt aims to please and, in "a mix of worry and wonderment," about his youngest son, Twill's, increasingly wayward and criminal ways. When Mosley assembles the McGill family for dinner, the results are painful and awkward, a postracial version of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Leonid, however, has much occasion to keep away from the messy conflicts of home as his search for the fourth man, one Roger Brown, takes him all over the map: upstate to Syracuse, within spitting distance of Gracie Mansion, and in close proximity to the violent deaths of others and the possibility of his own demise: "There's a different kind of death waiting for each and everyone one of us -- each and every day of our lives." Leonid questions what others assume and trusts little, but what remains immutable is that he belongs nowhere else but New York City and its continued state of flux: "Most other American municipalities are segregated by class and culture, education and personal choice. But in New York everybody is jumbled up together and bounced around until you have African princes walking side by side with Appalachian Daughters of the American Revolution, and aspiring starlets making room for hopeful housewives past their prime. Even with real estate costs climbing above the reach of almost everyone, you can still find all the elements of humanity riding the number 1 train down under the West Side of Manhattan."

Mosley does not shy away from the harrowing consequences of Leonid's attempts to right his moral wrongs, leaving the private detective longing for a sense of salvation he craves but knows is still beyond his grasp. But The Long Fall also acts as an aperitif for a potentially rich meal to be doled out over further installments: Mosley sets the novel in early 2008, when "people on Madison Avenue didn't mind dark skins" and considered voting for Obama -- if they voted. The change of the calendar opens up a number of fascinating possibilities for Leonid McGill to spend as much time investigating the mysteries of self as he does looking into the abyss deep beneath the supposed harmony of a nation in thrall to audacious hope. -- Sarah Weinman

Sarah Weinman reviews crime fiction for the Los Angeles Times and the Baltimore Sun and blogs about the genre at Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind (http://www.sarahweinman.com).

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451230256
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 2/2/2010
  • Series: Leonid McGill Series , #1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 213,820
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Walter Mosley is one of America’s most celebrated, beloved, and bestselling writers. His books have been translated into at least twenty-one languages, and have won numerous awards. Born in Los Angeles, Mosley lives in New York City.

Biography

When President Bill Clinton announced that Walter Mosley was one of his favorite writers, Black Betty (1994), Mosley's third detective novel featuring African American P.I. Easy Rawlins, soared up the bestseller lists. It's little wonder Clinton is a fan: Mosley's writing, an edgy, atmospheric blend of literary and pulp fiction, is like nobody else's. Some of his books are detective fiction, some are sci-fi, and all defy easy categorization.

Mosley was born in Los Angeles, traveled east to college, and found his way into writing fiction by way of working as a computer programmer, caterer, and potter. His first Easy Rawlins book, Gone Fishin' didn't find a publisher, but the next, Devil in a Blue Dress (1990) most certainly did -- and the world was introduced to a startlingly different P.I.

Part of the success of the Easy Rawlins series is Mosley's gift for character development. Easy, who stumbles into detective work after being laid off by the aircraft industry, ages in real time in the novels, marries, and experiences believable financial troubles and successes. In addition, Mosley's ability to evoke atmosphere -- the dangers and complexities of life in the toughest neighborhoods of Los Angeles -- truly shines. His treatment of historic detail (the Rawlins books take place in Los Angeles from the 1940s to the mid-1960s) is impeccable, his dialogue fine-tuned and dead-on.

In 2002, Mosley introduced a new series featuring Fearless Jones, an Army vet with a rigid moral compass, and his friend, a used-bookstore owner named Paris Minton. The series is set in the black neighborhoods of 1950s L.A. and captures the racial climate of the times. Mosley himself summed up the first book, 2002's Fearless Jones, as "comic noir with a fringe of social realism."

Despite the success of his bestselling crime series, Mosley is a writer who resolutely resists pigeonholing. He regularly pens literary fiction, short stories, essays, and sci-fi novels, and he has made bold forays into erotica, YA fiction, and political polemic. "I didn't start off being a mystery writer," he said in an interview with NPR. "There's many things that I am." Fans of this talented, genre-bending author could not agree more!

Good To Know

Mosley won a Grammy award in 2002 in the category of "Best Album Notes" for Richard Pryor.... And It's Deep, Too! The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings (1968-1992).

Mosley is an avid potter in his spare time.

In our 2004 interview, Mosley reveals:

"I was a computer programmer for 15 years before publishing my first book. I am an avid collector of comic books. And I believe that war is rarely the answer, especially not for its innocent victims."

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 12, 1952
    2. Place of Birth:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Education:
      B.A., Johnson State College
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 47 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(15)

4 Star

(15)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 47 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This is an intriguing private investigative Noir

    Albany, New York private investigator Ambrose Thurman hires Manhattan based sleuth Leonid McGill to find four black men who were close friends to two decades ago. He gives Leonid their nicknames as that is all his client gave him. Leonid has turned over a new leaf about being morally correct when it comes to working cases to include no jobs for the mob and being straight with his wife Katrina to include no more affairs with Aura and raise his three children; two not sired by him.

    He learns James "Big Jim" Wright is dead; Frankie "Jumper" Tork is in the Tombs awaiting sentencing for B&E; Theodore "Toolie" Nelson is doing 86 years; and Roger "B-Brain" Brown is a successful financier. He reports the information to Ambrose, but soon afterward Jumper and B-Brain are killed; Toolie is stabbed; followed by Ambrose whose real name is Norman Fell also being murdered. As NYPD Detective Kitteridge tries to nail him, Leonid works on finding who the client was as he feels he owes B-Brain for exposing him; he also works a case involving a mobster seeking an accountant hiding in Coney Island and his teenage son Twill planning to kill an abusive pedophile father.

    This is an intriguing private investigative Noir starring a man who in his fifties has found scruples that makes his job that much more difficult. The prime investigation is action-packed as Leonid realizes he indirectly caused the murders and almost dies too; yet feels he must uncover the truth even flying in a prop to Albany to do so. The other two sleuthing subplots, some musings by the hero into his unprincipled past and his family drama are well handled and enable the audience to better understand Leonid's motives. Although the king of the city seems over the Empire State Building, fans will enjoy this Walter Mosley's fine opening Manhattan (and Albany) murder mystery.

    Harriet Klausner

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2009

    The Long Fall-Not Mosley's Best

    Being a long time fan of Walter Mosley I was very much looking forward to this new series. Unfortunately, I found the plot to be all over the place and to have too many characters. This is the first Mosley book that I didn't have to fight not to finish in one sitting.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2009

    Less Than Stellar

    Big fan of WM; however this is a very poor effort. I am disappointed. Character development is poor; the plot wanders; the main character rambles. I have often given WM books to new readers. I will not pass this one along.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Liked it.

    Private detective Leonid McGill is trying to go straight, leaving his less than legal life behind. But honesty becomes challenging as he is hired by Albany private detective Ambrose Thurman to find four young men. The only information that Ambrose provides him with is the street names the young men used when they were teenagers. Leonid finds the men in question but there is something fishy about the whole situation and he is uncomfortable with certain aspects of the case. But the rent on his office is due and he needs the money so he shelves his doubts and hands over the names and addresses of the men to Ambrose. But all of Leonid's fears are confirmed when he finds out that the young men are suddenly turning up dead. In addition to all of this, Twill, Leonid's son is involved in something non too legal, his estranged wife has recently returned to his life and the woman who he truly cares for, is unavailable to him. Worst of all, as the men die, the police begin to look at him as a suspect.

    There is much to like about the story. I was drawn in almost from the beginning and intrigued by Leonid's life and dealings. The author has created a character who you know has a very checkered past but you almost can't help rooting for. But one of the first things that really bothered me about the book was the author's constant references to race. Characters were almost always described on a racial basis and interactions had many racial undertones. In a very small way I understand what the author was driving at when he first made certain racial references but after awhile it was extreme overkill. Also the resolution of the story was just not good enough. You spend all this time getting invested but when you find out what really happened you feel cheated. The author tried very hard to give the reader a feel for who Leonid was and brought in other story lines that were not related to the main mystery. Unfortunately, the detours became distractions and as interesting as they may have been, they became hindrance rather than help. But despite these problems I am not averse to reading more in this series(this is the first Leonid McGill mystery). I will definitely look out for the next book as I want to see what Leonid gets into the next time around.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 31, 2011

    Loved It!

    I personally couldn't get into the Easy Rawlins series. I tried years ago but I didn't like the movie Devil in a Blue Dress so it just didn't work for me. Maybe I'll try them again, years later and after reading this book. I read Man in the Basement and that was waaay too freaky for me but I highly commend Mr. Mosley with Leonid. I loved him from the very beginning. I can't see how anyone doesn't. I'm looking forward the other series. Yes, it has a lot of characters and yes there are some words I have to look up in the dictionary and ask...why didn't he just say that in the first place?! But I'm a nerd like that!! I enjoy flipping back and re-reading about a character. I keep a list of the words I dont' know & look them up later. I enjoy being challenged and Mr. Mosley challenges you but keeps you entertained.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 4, 2010

    Don't waste your money

    This is not a good write for Mosley. I did not enjoy the book because it was not well written like Mosley other books. The characters were just too many to keep up with the story and the plot was not all that good. I felt Mosley was trying to hard to introduce this new PI.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Mosley does it again

    The Long Fall by Walter Mosley introduces a new PI named Leonid McGill. A little background on McGill: He is African-American, average height, a boxer in a previous life, the son of a communist, married to a woman who had children by other men during their marriage and used to take on unscrupulous jobs if paid the right price. With all that said, McGill is trying to make up for his past by taking jobs that won't ruin the lives of others. But sometimes getting out of the life is hard to do.

    Mosley weaved together a great story of personal redemption while maintaining an excellent mystery. McGill, with all his flaws, is a likable character that you want to see succeed. By using his experience as a former boxer and using his own interpretation of what his communist father was trying to teach him as a child, McGill fights his way through several dangerous scraps and uses insight that is uncommon in most mystery novels.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 10, 2009

    Disappointing

    I was generally disappointed with this book . I found the story confusing and difficult to follow . There were some good parts, such as the interaction of the main character and his "son" . However, overall I wish Mr. Mosley had continued the Easy Rawlins series .

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2009

    Very unhappy...

    Although I am not a Walter Mosely fan, I thought that I might give this book a shot. I read a couple of chapters and the characters were all over the place. No layers, very weak story. It was painful reading this book. I hate this book. I am going to try to return it. Horrible! I wasted my money. I hope that I can get a refund. No seriously, this book is NOT worth the money. I would not even rent it from a library.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 12, 2013

    Super read

    Walter Mosley is a great author. I have read a great number of his books, and have never been disappointed

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2012

    Can't Put it Down

    Just when you thought there could never be a character as cool and engaging as Easy Rawlins Walter Mosley gives us Leonid McGill. It's a great read, I went on to get and read the last three books in the series. I'm finishing up #4 right now. I don't want the series to end.

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  • Posted February 1, 2012

    Worth the read for Mosley fans

    If you generally like the irreverent, sometimes intense or offbeat style of Mr. Mosley, you should enjoy this book. There are a lot of nuances that some may miss the humor in, like the main character's name (the spelling), Leonid... or maybe it's just me- I thought that was funny. But I love these stories and his Fearless Jones series.The characters are just right, reminiscent of the old school detective novels. Leonid McGill is not a super hero. He is just barely legal and looking over his shoulder for those who would do him bad.There are enough twists and turns to keep you turning pages and an occasional laugh-out-loud moment. I think The Long Fall is worth the read and if you like it, try the Fearless Jones series.

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  • Posted October 8, 2011

    Quick fast paced read

    An excellent novel that sweeps up the reader for.a twisting fast paced journey.

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  • Posted March 31, 2011

    Still entertaining...

    Leonid McGill stories are not the stuff of Easy Rawlins' stories. And yet, I found it entertaining, descriptive,and vivid. I could empathize (however unlikely it seemed) with McGill. I could see what he was made of, what he had done, who he wanted to be. And why. So, just put Easy Rawlins out of your mind and try this other world on, on it's own measures. You might just find, that, like me, you are entertained and want to read more. In some ways, I see McGill as Danny Glover, (known as Murtough in the Leathal Weapon movies.) Black, solidly built, long years in as a detective, McGill could almost say the same phrase "I'm too old for this..." and yet he continues the work.

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  • Posted July 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Long Fall East

    I've love Walter Mosley's gritty, insightful, tales of life in Los Angeles. Now Mr. Mosley has moved and his protagonist (this book is labeled as the first Leonid McGill novel) is at home in the Big Apple. I don't know New York as well as L.A., but then I didn't know L.A. nearly as well until I read Mr. Mosley's books. Was a move to New York a wise? We'll see McGill stands up to Easy and Socrates.

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    Posted July 24, 2011

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    Posted January 10, 2011

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