32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonder-fall
Walter Mosley's The Long Fall is a mystery novel set in New York. The main character and narrator, Leonid, is perfection. A private investigator trying to balance what he believes is right and what is necessary to pay his rent and provide for his family. When he ignores his gut and takes the wrong case; inadvertently assisting in murder, he finds himself fighting for...
Published on March 24, 2009 by Amazon Customer
51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to LT McGill's World
THE LONG FALL is the first book in Walter Mosley's new noir-ish series featuring the fiftysomething New York City private investigator, Leonid Trotter McGill ("LT"). Like other Mosley protagonists, LT is a smart, reflective observer, complex in his ethics and relationships in ways that intrigue readers and make them care deeply. He's a boxer with a Buddhist philosophy --...
Published on March 24, 2009 by emmejay
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to LT McGill's World,
THE LONG FALL is the first book in Walter Mosley's new noir-ish series featuring the fiftysomething New York City private investigator, Leonid Trotter McGill ("LT"). Like other Mosley protagonists, LT is a smart, reflective observer, complex in his ethics and relationships in ways that intrigue readers and make them care deeply. He's a boxer with a Buddhist philosophy -- "Throwing a punch is the yang of a boxer's life. The yin is being able to avoid getting hit" -- and admits to having thrown enough yang that he's now changed his life "from crooked to only slightly bent."
The novel opens as LT seemingly nears completion of his current case -- locating four men who knew each other as boys -- but when accumulating troubles start to test his yin, the story takes off. Unfortunately, it took off without me, as I became lost in unfamiliar minor characters and could only half-follow the storyline. I finally stopped to re-read the first five chapters and discovered why: nearly 40 characters are introduced in those 30 pages, but few are adequately unpacked.
Still, I read Mosley for his settings and main characters, and the ones here have terrific series potential -- people and places that are unlike me in the ways that intrigue ... and deeply familiar in the ways that matter.
32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonder-fall,
Walter Mosley's The Long Fall is a mystery novel set in New York. The main character and narrator, Leonid, is perfection. A private investigator trying to balance what he believes is right and what is necessary to pay his rent and provide for his family. When he ignores his gut and takes the wrong case; inadvertently assisting in murder, he finds himself fighting for his life. Which is only the beginning of his problems, as his youngest son is also plotting a murder. There is a lot of back story and compelling family drama intermixed with the front burner story line--the book is obviously a series launch.
The plot is very intricate (sometimes predictable), but the structure and pace become consuming. I had some difficulty understanding how Leonid came up with some of his conclusions, but it could be that I was racing through the pages.
When I wasn't reading this book, I wanted to be reading this book. The Long Fall is as near a perfect mystery as I have read lately. I am looking forward to the next installment of the series.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only slightly bent,
I never read the Easy Rawlins books. Maybe I should, because I'm in love with private investigator Leonid McGill at his very first appearance in The Long Fall.
LT (middle name Trotter) is a 53-year-old black man "two inches shorter and forty pounds heavier than a man should be." He's all muscle, a trained boxer, though he doesn't box. He has an unfaithful wife he doesn't love, and only one of their kids is biologically his. His favorite son is not his real son.
He can't be with the woman he really loves because his family needs him.
As an adolescent LT divided his leisure time between art museums and the boxing gym. He's very well read for a guy who earns a living doing shady deals.
LT never kills people, but his expertise has been used by the kinds of people who do kill. We meet him at a turning point in life. He's having too many nightmares. From now on instead of being crooked, he hopes to be only slightly bent. He's practicing meditation to help deal with his guilty past.
LT has a deadly talent. He can locate anybody, no matter how well hidden. In this book the bad guys are using LT again, but very cleverly, so that he only finds out when people start dying in his wake. He doesn't like it one bit, especially when his own name joins the hit list. Finding the mastermind behind the slaughter takes LT into some strange and frightening places. Be prepared for a complex plot with fascinating subplots!
Walter Mosley has written a wonderful book full of quirky characters and utterly engaging human dilemmas.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard To Break Old Habits,
Love the Mosley books. The Long Fall's protagonist, Leonid, is a tough likable detective. He is trying to change from a predator who makes a living off the stupidity of humanity to one who now through self awareness chooses to help them. Leonid's problems are many; he is attached to his wife but they are not in love, and yet cannot leave his wife for a mistress that he does love, his children are troublesome, and his job demands violence and mayhem which he is beginning to find repulsive. What I particularly like is the honesty of Leonid. His stream of consciousness revelations are startling. His relationship with his three interesting children allows the reader to see how the affection for his children affects how he deals with his clients whom he is trying, together with himself, to navigate to safety. What is gripping is some of Leonids plans will not work. He is not in control of other people and their violence will cause him to protect himself by being hard nosed and if necessary violent. Leonid's confusion and doubts about his job but never about protecting his family resonates with me.
I like the way Mosley builds his book. The answers to the many questions begin to resolve only towards the end of the book. Keeping me interested right to the the finish. Nicely done Mr. Mosley.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally,
I can remember when "Devil in a Blue Dress" came out. It was all over the bookstores, in dumps and displays in the front of various stores. Everyone who read mysteries read it that year. I'm the guy who sees what everyone else is doing, and does something else, just out of stubbornness, so I didn't read it for a year or so, but when I did, I realized that the hype wasn't in this case just manufactured. "Devil" is a truly great detective novel, one of the best first ones in the last 25-30 years, up there with Dennis Lehane's "A Drink Before the War" and Jonathan Kellerman's "When the Bough Breaks".
Mosley's had a somewhat uneven career since, in my opinion anyway. Several of the Easy Rawlins books since have been good (I especially liked "The Little Yellow Dog") and I liked the series of short stories featuring Socrates Fortlow, the guy who'd spent 20 years in jail for killing his wife and her lover. On the other hand, he's branched out and tried to be a "serious novelist", and that can be dangerous. I avoided "Blue Light" and his other more experimental stuff, and I didn't care for "The Man in my Basement" much at all. The whole series with Paris Minton, sidekick of Fearless Jones, just annoyed me, and the last book, where Paris in one passage modestly tells you he has a big schlong, while bedding one of many different women he enjoys during the course of the book, just struck me as a juvenile fantasy, predictable and not very interesting. I keep waiting for Mosley to recapture what he had when he started, before he got ideas and tried to be taken seriously.
The author is from Los Angeles, but he's moved to New York City (I gather his wife's in the "theatah") and so his new series is set in that city. Leonid McGill is a different character from Easy Rawlins. He's more of a shifty character, someone who in the past framed others for crimes they didn't commit (though most of the time they'd done *something*) and even occasionally fingered a target for a hit man. He finally did something that touched his soul in a profound way, and so now he's decided to walk the straight and narrow, and only take jobs where he can help people. Unfortunately, the past has a way of catching up with people in Mosley's books, and McGill is no exception to the rule. Someone hires him to find a list of people, against his better judgment he does it because he needs the money to pay the rent, and soon the men he's found wind up dead. When he goes looking for the guy who hired him, it turns out that individual is dead also, and soon after someone tries to kill McGill.
This is a standard private eye novel in the Chandler style. The plot is a bit over-complicated, has too many characters, and is really more about the setting (New York City) and the people that inhabit it than it is about the plot. McGill's a fascinating character, resenting his Communist father (who renamed himself Tolstoy and named his sons Leonid and Nikita), and feeling a sense of obligation to the wife who temporarily left him for a disgraced Wall Street hotshot, but came back and is trying to provide a home for him. The secondary characters, from the rest of Leonid's family to the various underworld figures he knows and interacts with, is pretty much completely fascinating. At one point one of the rich white people actually calls Leonid the "n" word, and he just ignores the guy. Easy would have been enraged, and I think Mouse would have shot the guy twice in the face.
This is a different character for a different world. I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend it. Very very good.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wait and See approach,
Once upon a time, Mr. Mosley was my favorite author. I never missed an Easy Rawlins or Fearless novel and I still long for their adventures. "Devil in a Blue Dress" is one of my favorite movies of all time and I have seen it at least 6 times. I adored Easy Rawlins so much, I bought the last few novels in hardcover for the full price!! I wanted Mr. Mosley to benefit from the hardcover royalties.
Now on to his new book, "The Long Fall". To put it bluntly, I don't like it. Hold on, let me back up a bit. I don't like any of the leading characters. Leonid McGill made a career of setting up innocent people and now he wants to change. Really, then get all of those people you set up OUT OF JAIL. The other major characters, his wife, favorite son, and friend (former assassin) are all despicable. Mr. Mosley, why didn't you make a good major character? Everyone in the book, except for the cop, are terrible people with terrible past. This book reminds me of the former show "Oz". There wasn't anyone in the show that you could call a good person. I feel the same way about this book. Mr. Mosley could have made his son a good person instead of a born criminal. His wife could have been good person. By the way, does Mr. Mosley have something against marriage? Easy Rawlins couldn't have a happy relationship either. I have been married happily for 16 years and MANY of my friends have been married longer. Mr. Mosley, there are people out there whose wife doesn't cheat on them at every opportunity.
Right now I don't know if I will read "Known to Evil". If I do decide to read it, I will definitely wait for the paperback or get it from a discount bookseller. I only gave this three stars because of my fondness for Mr. Mosley's previous works. I even bought "This year you write your novel" because he inspired me to write one. I feel so bad criticizing this book. I still adore Mr. Mosley's previous work and will think fondly of him because of it. Go back to writing about "Fearless" Mr. Mosley. At least he and Paris are a characters I can cheer on and if I am not mistaken, others share my opinion.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than ever,
Some of the reviews said this book starts a little slow and when compared to the Easy Rollins novels--which I love--that is true. There are more characters and more subplots but very few red herrings. I am not a regular reader of detective fiction and the Easy novels drew me in with the central character and his experience of LA. This one is set in New York City and while it lacks the visceral sense of landscape in the earlier novels, it's character development and narrative range go far deeper. Leonid is a great character but two months later I can still remember the qualities and nature of 20-25 other characters quite clearly. The plotting is dense and since I listened to the excellent audio book version, I occasionally wished I had the book to review a character but the gist was clear and the maze of plots did come clear at the end in a manner that was satisfying but not tidy. Mosley is working on a more ambitious canvas than ever and his confidence and trust in his readers allow him to tell his tale with patience and conviction. Can't wait for more LT.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I traded the history of four troubled young men's lives,
for nine filterless Camels and eight red-tipped matches."
Walter Mosley's newest novel, "The Long Fall", is full of this sort of short, terse nuggets that should assure any fan that while Easy Rawlins may be gone, Leonid McGill will fill that void very nicely.
Set in New York City, Leonid McGill is not as much a P.I. as he is an old-school fixer. You have a problem; Leonid's your go-to guy. The problem is that Leonid's client base has been historically filled with unsavory characters and the fixes made by Leonid have had some tragic consequences. Leonid is a man quite capable of self-reflection and he is haunted by his past. As a result, as the story opens, he has tried to walk away from that part of his work and decided to concentrate on cases that do not torture his newly invigorated sense of right and wrong. But, to paraphrase the only memorable line from the turgid Godfather 3 "just when he thought he was out... they pull him back in." The result is an excellent, fast-paced story.
There are three parallel plot lines in "The Long Fall". Leonid, named by his radical union-organizing father after Leonid Brezhnev), is asked by a shady P.I. from Albany to identify four men whose only connection is a decades old tragic event from their teenage years. As soon as their identities are revealed they start to die. At the same time, Leonid's step-son seems to have gotten himself mixed up in some bad business and Leonid tries to help his son out before the young teen digs himself a hole he can't crawl out of. Last, one of Leonid's former mob connections tries to get Leonid to locate a former mob-accountant. Leonid knows that finding this man will lead to his death. The story tracks each plot line until each one find some sort of resolution.
Two things stand out about "The Long Fall". First is the character of Leonid McGill. He's not a hero on a white horse. He's a flawed man, and some may say he's a bad man living in a bad world. But his saving grace is Leonid's self-awareness. He knows how flawed he is. In fact he is tormented by his past. His self-awareness and his strength in trying to steer a new course make him all the more human and it was impossible not to pull for him as the story progressed. Second is the quality of Mosley's writing. Since the genre came of age I think it fair to say that Chandler and Hammett are without peers. I'd put those two in a class by themselves. But Mosley has a terrific way with words and has the hard, sparse style that I've come to associate with the best `noir' writing. So while Mosley may not be Chandler or Hammett (who is?) I think he is one of the very few writers today who can be mentioned with them in the same sentence without embarrassment.
"The Long Fall" is an excellent piece of writing and will be enjoyed by fans of Mosley or for anyone looking for the next terrific `hard-boiled detective'. L. Fleisig
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a PI novel for the early 21st century,
Walter Mosley took the mystery genre by storm in 1990 when he introduced a mystery series set in post-World War II Los Angeles starring a black detective named Easy Rawlins. Here was a detective who worked in the same town as Raymond Chandler's Marlowe but walked on far different mean streets. It was a significant breakthrough in the world of mystery writing.
There have been nine Rawlins novels since then, and Mosley has gone on to write everything from serious fiction to science fiction to politics to even a book on how to write books. He is one of our most prolific authors. But he has never written a contemporary mystery. And he has never attempted, in his own words, "a classic noire suspense story."
Until now THE LONG FALL is a new private eye series set in contemporary New York City. Mosley expects to write a total of 10 books following the adventures of private eye Leonid McGill. And longtime fans of both Mosley and mysteries will not be disappointed. This is an important and exciting arrival in the book world, perhaps every bit as significant as the start of the Easy Rawlins series.
Mosley reinvents the PI genre in THE LONG FALL. McGill has little in common with great PIs of the past. Unlike Hammett's Spade and Chandler's Marlowe, McGill is not the type to sit around his office, waiting for the femme fatale to come through the door with her mysterious problem. Nor is he a knight errant like Robert B. Parker's Spenser.
McGill is dirty, plain and simple. He has made his living as a fixer for the mob and others. He does "piecework for killers and thieves." If you want a politician caught in a hotel room with a $2,000-a-night hooker, McGill is your guy. He tells us early on: "I had no problem bringing people down, even framing them with false evidence if that was what the client paid for. I didn't mind sending innocent men and women to prison because I didn't believe in innocent --- and virtue didn't pay the bills." Here is a man existentially ready for the fall.
McGill is not a killer, at least not a triggerman. He worked on the edges of the law, often resorting to barter that was little more than extortion/blackmail. So, for example, he is able to rent his office in an Art Deco midtown skyscraper for $1,800 a month when the market value of the space is $11,000 a month. McGill knows how to trade.
But at 53, his past has finally caught up with him, leaving him trapped in what he calls an "impossible life." He has "decided to go from crooked to slightly bent" and has managed to stay straight for a year and a half. His personal life is a disaster. He has not loved his wife for a dozen years. She ran off with another guy, and then when that imploded, she came back to him. He is father to three kids, two of them not his own. And one, his 16-year-old stepson, is heading right off the deep end and is about to become a criminal himself, unless McGill can save him.
McGill is a black man in a world where, as he points out, "It wasn't 2008 everywhere in America." The America of 2008 might have elected an African American president, but the past is never past, as Faulkner supposedly said. Mosley has always been a writer with a voice and social consciousness. And he has not lost it here. For example, he writes, "The scenario is simple, it just didn't make sense; like a cat sealed in a glass globe or the United States declaring peace."
McGill is a man haunted by his past, and he soon learns what Al Pacino's character learned in The Godfather: Part III: it is not so easy leaving the life. At one point he meets with a 70-year-old mobster to tell him he is out. Mosley writes, "The fit septuagenarian allowed another hint of mirth to flit across his lips. No one gets out, his smile said, unless it is on his back."
So McGill takes a job that smells bad to him from the start. An Albany PI pays him $12,000 for the whereabouts of four young black men. It is simple trafficking in information, something he has done a thousand times before. So despite his misgivings, he takes the money. McGill says, "And, anyway, I was broke and the rent was due."
In that sentence, Mosley creates a PI for our time, capturing perfectly the financial moral relativism of the past 30 years that has brought our entire economic system to the brink of the abyss. People are soon dying as a result of McGill's betrayal, and McGill might join them. And even if a killer does not get him, the aging private eye is getting himself. He says, "...I had the sensation of slipping further down into the sandpit of my own sins."
Mosley has written a true noir novel here. Take this passage for instance: "One thing I had learned in fifty-three hard years of living is that there's a different kind of death waiting for each and every one of us --- each and every day of our lives. There's drunk drivers behind the wheels of cars, subways, trains, planes, and boats; there's banana peels, diseases and the cockeyed medicines that supposedly cure them; you got airborne viruses, indestructible microbes in the food you eat, jealous husbands and wives, and just plain bad luck."
Mosley has also given us a character who, despite his dark past, has a basically good heart and is decent enough to seek redemption. We can't help but root for Leonid McGill, which will make this an interesting series to watch develop over the next decade. Will McGill find his redemption, or is it too late for a character so bad?
THE LONG FALL title is a deliberate echo of the past and Chandler's THE LONG GOODBYE. But Walter Mosley is too great a writer to just recycle the classic PI novel. This is a PI novel for the early 21st century, and the title refers not just to the fate of one man but perhaps an entire nation as well.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good and bad,
This review is from: The Long Fall (Basic) (Hardcover)
I just finished this story and have mixed feelings about the book.
First, the bad:
LT: I am not a fan of the flawless characters in stories. LT is one of those characters. He wins all fights, woos all women, outsmarts everyone and is two steps ahead of 99% of the human race. My opinion is that takes away from the story, and made me stop in several places and say "Oh my...skim skim skim."
Twill: LT's son, for the same reasons listed above, is not a character I found interesting.
Race/Color: The author for some reason feels compelled to give us the racial profile of every character in the book. Description is good, but this is overkill. Can't someone just be "the big, poorly dressed man got under my skin with his racial slurs"? Does he have to be "The big, poorly dressed man was Caucasian by most standards. His skin was a pale white and his use of racial slurs was getting under my skin."
The premise: The series is interesting and I look forward to the next installment. I think the premise is original.
Boxing: I box a little, so the boxing references were cool.
4th wall: The book transcends the 4th wall, and references current pop culture.
A good story, OK characters, told with good prose and interesting dialog. I would recommend it.
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The Long Fall by Walter Mosley (Hardcover - March 24, 2009)
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