When the Thrill Is Gone (Leonid McGill Series #3)

When the Thrill Is Gone (Leonid McGill Series #3)

by Walter Mosley


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451235657
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/03/2012
Series: Leonid McGill Series , #3
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 328,831
Product dimensions: 5.58(w) x 8.54(h) x 0.84(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Walter Mosley is one of America's most celebrated and beloved writers, and is the author of the Easy Rawlins novels as well as the new Leonid McGill series. Born in Los Angeles, he lives in New York.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:

January 12, 1952

Place of Birth:

Los Angeles, California


B.A., Johnson State College

Reading Group Guide


Leonid McGill is back, in the third installment in Walter Mosley's latest New York Times bestselling series. The economy has hit the private-investigator business hard, even for the detective designated as "a more than worthy successor to Philip Marlowe" (The Boston Globe) and "the perfect heir to Easy Rawlins" (Toronto, Globe and Mail). Lately, Leonid McGill is getting job offers only from the criminals he's worked so hard to leave behind. Meanwhile, his life grows ever more complicated: his favorite stepson, Twill, drops out of school for mysteriously lucrative pursuits; his best friend, Gordo, is diagnosed with cancer and is living on Leonid's couch; his wife takes a new lover, infuriating the old one and endangering the McGill family; and Leonid's girlfriend, Aura, is back but intent on having some serious conversations…

So how can he say no to the beautiful young woman who walks into his office with a stack of cash? She's an artist, she tells him, who's escaped from poverty via marriage to a rich collector who keeps her on a stipend. But she says she fears for her life, and needs Leonid's help. Though Leonid knows better than to believe every word, this isn't a job he can afford to turn away, even as he senses that—if his family's misadventures don't kill him first-sorting out the woman's crooked tale will bring him straight to death's door.


Walter Mosley is the author of more than 34 critically acclaimed books, including the New York Timesbestselling mystery series featuring Easy Rawlins. His work has been translated into 21 languages and includes literary fiction, science fiction, political monographs, and a young adult novel. His short fiction has been widely published, and his nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times Magazine and The Nation, among other publications. He is the winner of numerous awards, including an O. Henry Award, a Grammy, and PEN America's Lifetime Achievement Award. He lives in New York City. Author website: waltermosley.com

  • Leonid McGill references the strings of "karma" in conjunction with his relationship with Iran. How does karma haunt and benefit each of the book's characters? What other aspects of karma come up in this story?
  • Leonid McGill's complicated past surfaces throughout When The Thrill Is Gone. How do we learn about it? Why do you think Mosley chooses to reveal it in these ways?
  • How does Leonid's father manifest himself in this story? Compare Leonid's outlook—and his interactions with his kids—to those of his dad.
  • One of Tolstoy McGill's sayings was, "Love will beat you down worse than any bull or truncheon." How does this idea resonate for Leonid McGill? For his wife? His clients?
  • At various points in the story, Leonid McGill reflects on his father's communist leanings. Why do you think Mosley gave McGill a father with Soviet sympathies? To what extent do his references to communism act as a societal commentary?
  • Leonid McGill notes that a black detective "still gets hassled by the cops simply for standing on the sidewalk in the middle of the day in a residential neighborhood." Give examples of how Mosley uses McGill and his life experience to comment on disparities of race and class, and on urban life.
  • Which is more challenging, McGill's personal life or his professional predicaments? Give examples.
  • Leonid's best friend Gordo is dying from cancer. Mortality and death are strong threads in the story—and so are the survival instincts of the main characters. Discuss how these themes work in tandem and in conflict.
  • The boxing gym is an important setting for this mystery. How does the sport function as a metaphor for the challenges Leonid McGill faces?
  • Discuss the portrayal of women in When The Thrill Is Gone. Which female character was most believable? Who did you sympathize with the most?
  • What role does New York City play in the narrative, as a backdrop, a character, and as McGill's hometown? Discuss in terms of geography, architecture, and class relations.
  • In his late teens and early twenties, Walter Mosley was addicted to alcohol and cigarettes. How do addiction and recovery figure into this narrative?
  • How does Mosley create suspense in the story? Give examples and identify which of his techniques are most effective.
  • What surprised you most about the book's outcome? Did you think something different might happen? When was the turning point for you?
  • Customer Reviews

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    When the Thrill Is Gone (Leonid McGill Series #3) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 60 reviews.
    LIV2read More than 1 year ago
    I just finished this book last night and was getting ready to order the next one in the series,' All I Did Was Shoot My Man'. If you're a Mosley fan, you WILL enjoy this book. It's got all the things you read Mosley for, the kooky, quirky characters, the peek into the seamy side of human nature, a few twists and turns, a little offside humor and the 'Oh-I-didn't-see-that-coming' that you expect! I really liked some of the minor players in this one, like McGill's secretary, Mardi (a young lady he rescued from herself in a previous McGill novel) and his girlfriend, Aura (a woman he loves and depends on, but isn't in the position to commit to 100%). They're in his other books, but I felt their personalities came out a little more in this one. There are a lot of characters in this book, and you kinda have to pay attention. But it was such a good ride! You'll get to the point where you can't put it down because you have to know! And it all ties together and makes sense. Mosley fans, dive in!!
    Eileen_Walsh More than 1 year ago
    Mosely has outdone himself. This is a brilliant novel with engaging story-telling and compelling characters. Human nature without any glossy covering: complicated lives, raw and thought-provoking. An excellent read and a lingering set of thoughts to ponder. Wow.
    Aradanryl More than 1 year ago
    This is the first I've read by this author and it turned out to be a great introduction. I want to read the rest of the series and most likely, some of the other series by the same author. Couldn't put it down until the last page forced me to stop. Leonid, the main character, grew on me as the book progressed to the point I almost liked him after all. Note: This uncorrected proof was provided free through the GoodRead's First Reads program by Riverhead with an expectation of an honest review. My opinion is my own
    Lynie More than 1 year ago
    Leonid McGill is a NYC private investigator. He's just been hired by Chrystal Tyler, a woman who claims to fear for her life. Her husband's first two wives met unusual deaths and she's afraid she's going to be next. Her story about being married to a wealthy patron of her art doesn't jibe with her clothing or demeanor but he really needs the large amount of cash she's offering as a retainer. But very quickly, Leonid discovers that many of the people in this case are not who they're pretending to be, including the woman who hired him. At the same time, McGill is searching for William Williams at the request of a local crime boss. No one has seen Williams in decades and his real identity is a shock. Quieter and gentler than Mosley's street-smart Easy Rawlins character, Mosley has infused McGill with an "uptown" style. As well as pursuing Tyler's case, he's dealing with a cheating wife, his good friend Gordo is dying of cancer and is staying at the McGill home, and one of McGill's sons is up to something illegal. He's also longing to rekindle his relationship with his lover, Aura, and assisting random people he meets along the way. I first discovered Mosley's books almost twenty years ago when then presidential candidate Bill Clinton, who is a fan of mysteries, said that Walter Mosley was one of his favorite authors during an interview. It was 1992 and I started with Mosley's DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS. I've been a devoted fan ever since and WHEN THE THRILL IS GONE did not disappoint. I hope to be happily entertained by Mr. Mosley for the next twenty years. Lynn Kimmerle
    TN1796 14 days ago
    Leonid McGill is hard up for clients in the aftermath of the 2008 economic collapse. To add to his woes, his stepson Twill has dropped out of school, his wife has a new lover and his sometimes-mistress Aura is back in his life. He is hired by a beautiful woman with a shaky story and a wad of cash. Once again he must sort out the truth both for his client and his family. For only the third book in this series McGill already feels like one of those character who have been around a while. That's a good thing; Mosley has established the Manhattan gumshoe as another of his compelling detectives so well that I look forward to any of his future books.
    SandyLee on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    Leonid McGill is paid a healthy sum by Chrystal Tyler who is afraid of becoming her husband¿s third wife to die. Cyril Tyler is a wealthy man whom his wife believes is having an affair. Things are never easy for Leonid. He soon discovers that Chrystal is an imposter. She looks like her picture but not quite. What¿s worse, when he meets Cyril, he isn¿t the real deal either. Chrystal¿s sister, Shawna, is the one who has been impersonating her sister, but when she turns up dead, suspicion turns to Cyril. Leonid is a P.I. with a lot of balls in the air so it made it difficult to follow. He has a wife who is having an affair, a girlfriend, a dying friend who is living with him, a son who is up to no good, another son off in Europe with a girlfriend who is trouble with a capital T, and five of Shawna¿s kids who are now homeless but Leonid doesn¿t know where to find Chrystal. As if that wasn¿t enough, a shady character who knew Leonid¿s Communist father wants him to track someone down for him. A lot of characters have one paragraph walk-ons, making me wonder if they were introduced in the previous book which left this reader in the dark. Perhaps dished out in one serving I might have been able to keep track of everyone but I was unable to read it in one day. Leonid is a bit of a shady character himself but he has a heart of gold which makes him quite likeable.
    tjshoe on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    This was a very interesting book. I had not read any Walter Mosley books prior to receiving this as a LibraryThing Early Reviewer. I thought it was very well written and extraordinary character development. I am used to thrillers that move at a very fast pace, sometimes fast enough to almost leave me breathless. This book was a bit more introspective. In addition to great characterization Mosely turns quite the descriptive phrase.
    mybookcloset on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    I haven¿t read Walter Mosley in many years and Leonid Trotter McGill, the tough PI with the evil past, was new to me. His relationship to the others inhabiting his world had me confused at first, but then I caught onto most of the dynamics and can¿t wait to go back and read the first two books to see how they all got where they are. I loved Mosley¿s writing style, his way of describing each scene¿ I could see the broad, bright-green suburban lawn leading up to the over-sized ranch-style house as LT stepped onto the roof of a 19 story building in New York, and his way of making me `see¿ the people that McGill has dealings with is amazing. The end was a surprise to me, that when I thought back on it had been there building as a side story all along. I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone looking to add a new detective to their bookshelf.I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book from LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Thank You LibraryThing and Riverhead Books!
    lchav52 on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    Leon McGill returns in this latest offering from Walter Mosley to find himself in a case where nothing is what it seems, including his client. When Chrystal Tyler shows up in McGill's office, claiming to be afraid that her billionaire husband may be about to kill her, Leonid is intrigued by her story, and the pile of cash Chrystal places on his desk. Two previous wives are dead, and Chrystal is convinced that they died simply because her husband willed it to be. An agreement is struck, and McGill begins to investigate, knowing that any previous means of death is almost certainly much more mundane - and human - than described. But investigating a man with such power isn't easy, and McGill finds one roadblock after another. When it turns out that even his client isn't what she purported to be, he faces a tangled, twisted path, beset by danger, and even some personal revelation.Leonid McGill is a colorful, likable, even admirable character, who has the ability to see through the charades most of us live, right into the core. His checkered background and past transgressions, while forever shaping his identity, also have lent him w kind of street-level wisdom that is, in many ways, profound. I was impressed by him. You may be, too.
    BillPilgrim on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    This is the third book by Mosley featuring Leonid McGill, but I have not yet read the first two. I was able to get along quite well though, without the full history of the characters. There were references to past significant events, which were obviously the major plot of earlier books, but the details of those stories were not needed to enjoy this book. There was one major plot line in this book, with other things going on that will carry through to future books. McGill gets a new client, a woman identifying herself as the wife of a billionaire, whose first two wives died under mysterious circumstances. She tells him that her husband murdered the first two wives and now she feels in danger because he is having an affair. After she leaves his office, he looks into her story and quickly discovers that she is not who she claimed to be. He works on the case anyway, and this story thread plays out nicely.Along the way, he is also asked by an old friend of his father to locate a missing person. He agrees to do this as a favor, and this thread is not fully resolved by the book's end. His relationships with family members and friends also takes up a large part of the book. These will obviously continue. I enjoyed the book overall and will probably catch up with the first two books and read any new ones. This was a quick, easy read, hard to put down.
    23blue on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    I just read When the Thrill is Gone - good stuff When the Thrill is Gone is the first Walter Mosley book I have read in a long time and I have only read a few of the thirty plus others. This book was great though I wish I had read the other two Leonid McGill mysteries first. Not that it isn¿t a stand alone story just that I like to start at the beginning and get all the back-story I can. I won¿t get into the story except to say that if you are a fan of the noir genre, mysteries, or NYC you will like this book. I don¿t think I put it down from the time I started it to its finish. Mosley¿s language and descriptions are wonderful, within the first few paragraphs I wanted to take up boxing.Now I need to go to the very next store and pick up the first two in the series.
    daisygrl09 on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    This story is about an ex-boxer, Leonid McGill and his life and PI practice. A woman comes to him asking him to find her sister. She is afraid her sister's husband is going to kill the sister. The story evolves from there adding many new characters, Leonid's wife, step-children, friends, old contacts and suspects in the case. I thought the storyline flipped around quite often. I had to stop and remind myself who a character was and how they fit into the story. Leonid turns out to be a smart, cool cookie who can definitely handle himself in most any situation. This book wasn't too bad, although I probably would not recommend it.
    grumpydan on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    P.I. Leonid McGill takes on the case of a beautiful woman and artist who hands him a bundle of cash, saying she is afraid someone is trying to kill her. Soon he finds out she is not who she says she is and yet she still may have been murdered. He also takes on the case of locating a William Williams that no one has seen in over twenty years. Enough to keep him bust, there is still his private life having to deal with his stepson who has disappeared, his wife and girlfriend and his best friend. So much going on, yet Mosley gives an entertaining and mysterious tale that is colorful and descriptive. This is another one of those novels that I am glad to have been introduced to or otherwise would have missed. Mosley is a master of his craft.
    charlottem on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    Noir is my favorite genre in film so I am a big fan of Mr. Mosley. I am partial to Easy Rawlins having started out with him, but Leonid is growing on me. The dialogue gets better with each book if that¿s possible.
    TooBusyReading on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    The last thing I need is another mystery writer whose series I want to read, but dang it, I've gone and done it again, found an author whose writing I thoroughly enjoy. When the Thrill is Gone was my first book by this author even though it is the third in his series about PI Leonid McGill. Now I have to go back and read the first two, and maybe other novels by Mosley.Leonid is a hard-boiled detective, not always right with the law. Okay, almost never right with the law. And he used to be even worse ¿ I've gotta find out those details. Anyway, a very rich woman comes to him because she thinks her husband is going to kill her; two former wives are now dead and he is behaving oddly. But...the woman's dress and demeanor don't quite seem right for her wealth. So what is really going on?The book is heavy on the testosterone, lots of tough guys doing tough things, but the violence isn't overly gruesome. The characters are interesting and the plot has enough turns to keep me interested. The characters aren't black and white, but all shades of good and bad. McGill's relationship with his wife is especially interesting. For me, the book had just the right amount of description. In describing the characters, Mosley usually described their skin color, no two being alike. ¿Her color was that of maple syrup in a glass jar, but in shadow.¿ I loved that. All in all, a great read for the genre.I was given an uncorrected proof of the book by the publisher, very much appreciated.
    cmeilink on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    I was fortunate to receive a free copy of this book from Early Reviewers at Librarything.com, but, I would gladly have gone out and purchased this one for my library.Excellent! Leonid is a private investigator hired by a woman who fears her husband may be plotting to kill her, but in this intricately woven story, nothing is as it seems. Complicating matters even further are Leonid's own family problems--a wife who has taken other lovers, one son who has fallen for the wrong type of woman, and another son who seems to have fallen on the wrong side of the law.Walter Mosley proves once again that he is a master at his craft with rich dialogue, real characters, and a flow to the story that sweeps the reader along effortlessly. LOVED THIS BOOK!Add this to your "MUST READ" list!
    EdGoldberg on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    Walter Mosley is Walter Mosley. That's about all one can say. His books are readable. His characters are interesting, introspective, fun, funny, odd, etc.Someone who identifies herself as Chrystal comes to Leonid McGill afraid that her husband is going to do her harm. The fact that his two previous wives were killed under uncertain circumstances makes this fear easy to understand.At the same time, Leonid's deceased father's best friend, Vartan Harris, a notorious mobster, acts a personal favor of Leonid: find William Williams.These two pursuits lead McGill far afield and those he recruits for his cases are the usual suspects. It's kinda like old home week for those who have read the previous Leonid McGill books. McGill is a softy at heart, saving some children and a hooker from a painful future, taking care of Gordo his best friend and father figure, saving his sons Twill and Dmitri from foolish acts.Not high literature, Walter Mosley is an easy, fun read. I happen to like his Fearless Jones series the best.
    JJKING on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    This is my first Walter Mosley book but it will not be my last.Checking the list of his past books(I do this with ever author I'm lucky to get advance copy of there book)discovered his first book...DEVIL IN THE BLUE DRESS...was made into a movie.Have not read the book,but the movie I have seen several times,last being just week or two ago.Leonid McGill is someone I would like to call friend,reminds me of Raymond Chandler's character Philip Marlowe or Dashiell Hammett's charactersNick and Nora Charles,,,(without Nora).THANK YOU again Library Thing for introducing me to a author that i might have missed...
    brookeott on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    I first encountered Walter Mosley when he gave a lecture for the Smithsonian's Mystery Writer Lecture Series in the early 80's. In preparation for that I read Devil in a Blue Dress. That reading, and the live interview with him, have led me to read every book he has written. His style is so unique. I've never come across any other writer who can use language in such a literate, coarse, and descriptive way. It defies my attempt to describe.This book is another step along his path of getting better with every book he writes. The ending, in particular, was unexpected but very rewarding for those who have read the previous Leonid McGill novels.
    nbmars on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    I don¿t even like noir mysteries. But Mosley is such a darn good writer I can¿t resist his books anyway. McGill has some clients who get him into near-death scrapes, but the real emphasis in this book is on fathers and sons ¿ McGill and his Communist father, and McGill and his stepsons. And it¿s about a man, who at the age of fifty, finally figures out what he wants to do with his life.Mosley¿s reputation as a literary artist who happens to write mysteries is substantiated in this book by little flights of transcendent prose such as this, when McGill is thinking about how good it is to be on his own at three in the afternoon¿"¿when most other workers are sitting in cubicles, dreaming of retirement, praying for Saturday, or finding themselves crammed-in down underground on subway cars, hurtling toward destinations they never bargained for.¿ Or this, when he was watching a woman cook breakfast for him:"`What?¿ she asked when I smiled at my flittery, yellow butterfly of a heart.¿Or the words from a witness, that inadvertently cause McGill to have an epiphany about what drove his father:"I gave my children the kind of dreams they could live by, but dreams are like oceans, Mr. McGill. If they¿re worth a damn they¿re bigger than the dreamer, and sometimes, when the one dreaming wants to be as big as what they imagine, the wave pulls `em down.¿In this book, the meditations of the protagonist are mostly turned inward rather than focusing on the world outside himself, so it is a bit more melancholy than Mosley¿s usual fare, but this introspection also lends more literary notes to the story.Evaluation: When the Thrill is Gone is the third book in the Leonid McGill detective series, but can be read as a standalone book. If you like noir mysteries, you will like this solid contribution to that genre. If you appreciate lyric prose, you will like this book even if you don¿t like noir mysteries. Walter Mosley is an author who can and should be savored on a number of levels.Rating: 4/5
    JosephLYoung on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    Mosley has a great handle on his descriptions. I'm a visual reader and his story landscape is rich with vision! His analogies are creative and original and give an instant impression of his meaning. The principle character, McGill is an aging boxer with grown children who are stretching family bonds (growing up) and testing the influences of their father. This reformed criminal, ex-boxer, brilliant detective, lover and ticket to a Black perspective on the dark side of life in New York is a real adventure for the pale library user. McGill gives lessons in loyalty to friends, family and fellow human beings and displays real love for children and the powerless. Much of his efforts and fortune is spent easing the trials of people in his association. His friendships are the real tools that allow him to be effective as a detective. The story has many twists and turns and it is difficult to think ahead into the story. If you are like me, you'll jump on a clue that takes you in an entirely different direction that the next twist of the story. The story lasts until the last page and then wraps it up cleanly in a satisfying fashion. Good results for children, friends, clients and even the ever suffering police detective. It is as good as any of the other Mosley stories I've read and I've purged my local libraries to insure an exposure to his works. I highly recommend to anyone who likes intelligent, dark sided, non-conventional detective stories!
    joelhagan on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    Just got finished with this fun new Walter Mosley book. Leonid Mcgill is back in his 3rd book and once again it is a fun, twisting, modern noir. If you like Mosley, Noir fiction, NYC, mysteries or tough guys you'll like this book. Even if you haven't read the two previous books in this series you'll be able to get into it and will enjoy another fine read from Walter Mosley.
    Ronrose1 on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    When Winston Churchill spoke of, "a riddle wrapped in a puzzle wrapped in an enigma", he might well have been describing Walter Mosley's fictional detective, Leonid McGill. Everyone keeps secrets from him. Everyone tells him lies or half truths. His dad quoted him communist manifesto instead of reading him bedtime stories in the relatively few years he was around. He was last seen just before leaving his wife and young Leonid, to go fight in some South American revolution. Leonid knows his wife is seeing another man, but it seems to be improving her self image. Her attitude towards Leonid and her kids is getting better. At the office where McGill trys to run his detective business in a down economy, his clients are few and far between. So when a beautiful woman comes in telling him that she needs protection from her husband who may be out to kill her, he takes it with a grain of salt and a hand full of cash. His initial investigation reveals she is not who she said she was. Leonid, however, has to rethink everything when her body turns up colder than the cash she gave him. Riddles, puzzles, enigmas. You need to be open to all the clues if you want to stay on top of this one. Be prepared, the more Walter Mosley you read, the more you will want to read. This book provided for review by the well read folks at Shelf Awareness and Riverhead Books
    memasmb on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    This book was received from LibraryThing through their Early Reviewers program.This is my fourth book of Walter Mosley and I am well acquainted with P.I. Leonid McGill and his family.The story begins with a woman Chrystal Tyler arriving at his office and who pays Leonid a pretty sum to find out if her husband, Cyril Tyler is having an affair and maybe wants her out of the picture like his first two wives.Sounds like a simple case¿but the woman is not Chrystal but her sister Shawna. So begins the journey of solving a murder, taking on the responsibility of a dying mentor, finding the real Chrystal, providing shelter for five children, straightening out his budding criminal son, saving another son from danger and coping with a cheating wife.Walter Mosley writes a narrative with characters that are so well developed that you can immerse yourself in all the different scenarios and have no difficulty following these complex and ever changing situations. You are compelled to keep reading to find out if Leonid can solve everyone¿s problems.Just like in life, some issues turn out great and others cannot be rectified. Leonid always tries to do his best.I for one definitely want to read more from Walter Mosley about P.I. Leonid McGill.
    lyncos on LibraryThing 22 days ago
    This was my first time reading a novel by Walter Mosley and I enjoyed meeting his character P.I. Leonid McGill. Leonid is a very complicated man with a very complex life which he manages with verve and panache. He juggles the myriad challenges in is his professional and private lives demonstrating raw human nature. I enjoyed all of the events and situations that were happening in the book ( they were sometimes a bit hard to keep track of but necessary to the development of the book) and found that the action, mystery and suspense moved along very well and the characters were well developed. This one is well worth reading!