The Right Mistake (Socrates Fortlow Series #3)

The Right Mistake (Socrates Fortlow Series #3)

4.6 10
by Walter Mosley

View All Available Formats & Editions

Living in south central L.A., Socrates Fortlow is a sixty-year-old ex-convict still strong enough to kill men with his bare hands. Filled with profound guilt about his own crimes and disheartened by the chaos of the streets, Socrates calls together local people of all races and social stations and begins to conduct a Thinkers’ Club, where all can discuss…  See more details below


Living in south central L.A., Socrates Fortlow is a sixty-year-old ex-convict still strong enough to kill men with his bare hands. Filled with profound guilt about his own crimes and disheartened by the chaos of the streets, Socrates calls together local people of all races and social stations and begins to conduct a Thinkers’ Club, where all can discuss life’s unanswerable questions.

Infiltrated by undercover cops and threatened by strain from within, the Thinkers’ Club doesn’t have it easy. But simply by debating racial authenticity, street justice, and the possibility of mutual understanding, Socrates and his unlikely crew actually begin to make a difference.

The Right Mistake is Walter Mosley at his most incisive. At once an affectionate and coruscating portrait of ghetto life, it abides the possibility of personal redemption and even, with great struggle, social change.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

A history of terrible violence including rape and murder followed by 27 years of incarceration in a prison with its own codified violence have helped shape Socrates Fortlow, previously featured in two short story collections, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned(1997) and Walkin' the Dog(1999). The hardened ex-con living in South Central L.A. has been chiseled by his experiences into a hulking essence of wise humanity. An initial gathering of diverse characters (a Muslim, a Jew, a Buddhist, a gambler, a singer, a lawyer, two killers, etc.) brought together by Socrates becomes an agent of change. The weekly "Thinkers' Meetings" grow despite internal dissension and attempts at suppression and subversion by authorities. The talks forge bonds, lead to actions, spread beyond L.A. and take on a life of their own. In the face of gangs, drugs, poverty and racism, Mosley poses the deceptively simple question-"What can I do?"-and provides a powerful and moving answer. (Oct.)

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

Socrates Fortlow returns in his third adventure (after Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned and Walkin' the Dog), ready to change his corner of South Central L.A. A reformed murderer and rapist, Socrates knows only too well his own emotional limitations and does his best to guide his friends, especially his ward, Darryl, in avoiding the same treacherous path. In an effort to stop talking and start doing, he gathers a diverse ethnic and religious group of community members for weekly "Thinkers' Meeting" discussions on different issues in his rented house, the Big Nickel. It becomes the spot for everyone to gather. From holding poetry slam nights to negotiating rival gang disputes, Socrates slowly starts to turn his community around but not without the constant harassment of local law enforcement. As the members of the meetings come away with their own personal victories and redemption, prolific author Mosley skillfully illustrates what can be accomplished in communities rife with racism and destitution. Highly recommended for popular fiction collections.
—Joy St. John

Kirkus Reviews
Ex-con Socrates Fortlow, the conscience of South Central Los Angeles (Walkin' the Dog, 1999, etc.), returns for another dozen interlinked adventures, most of them revolving around dialogues on tough or taboo subjects. Years after he was released from prison for rape and homicide, Socrates has a new project: the Big Nickel, a community center whose premises he cleverly acquires in the opening story. Every week, the Thursday Night Thinkers' Meeting convenes. During the meeting members discuss "the world and what would be the right thing to do." Since the Thursday night group includes gambler Billy Psalms, murderer Ronald Zeal, his attorney Cassie Wheaton, singer Marianne Lodz, her silent friend Luna Barnet, carpenter Antonio Peron, wealthy junk man Chaim Zetel and karate master Wan Tai, lively disagreements are guaranteed, especially when the discussion turns, as it often does, to race. While Socrates and his friends celebrate the power of arguments in their safe space to produce deeper insights, events from outside keep intruding. A much younger member of the group confesses her love to Socrates. He finds an unexpected source of funding that helps him dramatically expand his outreach. His adoptive son Darryl is shot. The LAPD, suspicious of the Big Nickel, uses an informant to infiltrate the group. A baseless search of the premises leads Socrates to threaten Capt. Telford Winegarten, of the Anti-gang Tactical Division, with a lawsuit. Socrates and Billy Psalms, on a trip to San Francisco, get arrested for Driving While Black. And in the climactic story, Socrates once more stands trial for murder. The debates meant to be the volume's backbone are heartfelt dramatizations of familiarpositions, and the Big Nickel's achievements seem a little utopian. The main attraction, as usual, is Socrates, whose manful attempts to live out his dialectic on the mean streets of Watts make him a hero worthy of his namesake.

Read More

Product Details

Basic Books
Publication date:
Socrates Fortlow Series, #3
Edition description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.59(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Right Mistake (Socrates Fortlow Series #3) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have waited for years for Walter Mosley to revisit my favorite character,Socrates.It was well worth the wait! This book is riveting.I could not put it down,I finished it in 2 days.Once again Mr Mosley,i am a fan for life.You write it,ill read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read several books by Mosley. He writes with an observation of human behavior hidden in a really good read. I highly recommend this Book as a Book Club selection, it will stimulate a very lively discussion. Anyone interested in human behavior will love Mosley's Writing style.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
wsrhodes More than 1 year ago
All fans of Walter Mosley will rave about this book, but I hope it reaches a much wider audience. Socrates Fortlow (like Mr. Mosley's other main characters) live in a world most of us have not personally experienced, but the wisdom and messages that come through are universal. Definitely a "good read" but also a book that will make you think about your own life and values.
ole_obrian More than 1 year ago
Walter Mosley is a rare gem that one finds only a few times in their life. His character Socrates Fortlow is an amazing complex man who has his finger on the pulse of his neighborhood and life . Socco as his friends call him takes you on a journey of discovery in "The Right Mistake" .If you ever wanted to walk around in another mans skin,Walter Mosley takes you there. I whole heartedly recommend this book and all of Mosleys works. BRAVO Mr. Mosley Bravo
ChasEC More than 1 year ago
Previous books by Walter Mosley I have enjoyed include others in the Fortlow Series. However, this one dragged. It was never too clear where it was going. This story may appeal to persons who are seeking an outlet for their own unaccomplished dreams, seeking to piggyback on Fortlow's. My recreational reading, while it may allow for some deep thought, also craves a somewhat linear storyline (not meaning there can't be some looking backwards) even though those lines can come from different directions. A challenge to figure out what is happening and where it's all leading, whether I'm right or wrong, holds my unforced attention. The end violence seems to come out of nowhere despite the hints of official interference and some things, like the civil suit, are unresolved. It just doesn't come together. I was also somewhat taken aback by a number of editing errors which I've never noticed before (perhaps because I was too busy reading go be distracted by such errors). I shall continue to read those of Mosely's works which I think will appeal to me because of the great satisfaction received from previous experiences with his books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago