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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complex thinker worries about a pedestrian world
A woman who claims to be Cyril Tyler's wife tells private detective Leonid McGill that her wealthy husband is responsible for the deaths of his first two wives. She wants McGill to save her from becoming his next victim. In need of money, McGill accepts the case but soon suspects that the woman is not in fact Chrystal Tyler. His attempt to resolve the mystery brings...
Published on March 8, 2011 by TChris

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhere between Above Average and Pretty Good
I have read most of Walter Mosley's works, so maybe I am getting tired of his style. But, to me his style is getting tired. I enjoyed the book the way you enjoy an old friend who comes to visit and wears out his welcome soon. I am tired of the protagonists who are flawed in ways that make them likeable. I am tired of indestructible Mosley side-kicks who cannot live up to...
Published on January 17, 2012 by publix sushi


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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complex thinker worries about a pedestrian world, March 8, 2011
By 
A woman who claims to be Cyril Tyler's wife tells private detective Leonid McGill that her wealthy husband is responsible for the deaths of his first two wives. She wants McGill to save her from becoming his next victim. In need of money, McGill accepts the case but soon suspects that the woman is not in fact Chrystal Tyler. His attempt to resolve the mystery brings him into contact with the rich and poor, cops and thugs, captive children and corpses. Along the way his own children and other members of his unconventional family add to his angst.

Walter Mosley populates his sentences with observations as bright and multifaceted as gemstones. He's as much a philosopher as a mystery writer. Mosley describes a deceased character in When the Thrill Is Gone as "a complex thinker who worried about a pedestrian world." He might have been describing himself. Mosley understands human nature in all its wonderful variation. He writes eloquently but succinctly about love and betrayal, race and poverty, hard life and bitter death. Mosley gives depth to his characters while honing his story to its essentials, never miring the plot in wasted words. His dialog is snappy; his descriptions are vivid. Although the story moves with blazing speed, I found myself reading sentences and paragraphs two or three times, slowing the pace of my reading to savor Mosley's prose.

Mosley sprinkles effective doses of humor into the narrative. The story feels authentic, as do the characters: quirky enough to be interesting but grounded in life's daily pleasures and misfortunes. The mystery itself, including its resolution, is rather ordinary; the plot is engaging but unspectacular. The tale Mosley tells in When the Thrill Is Gone almost seems secondary to the writing itself. Its value is as a vehicle to drive the story of McGill's life, a fascinating life we glimpse over the course of a few days. The mystery of McGill is more interesting than the mystery he solves.

This is Mosley's third novel featuring Leonid McGill but the first I've read. The narrative makes repeated references to past events in McGill's life, some of which I assume were chronicled in the first two books. Not having read them didn't impair my understanding of the story Mosley tells in When the Thrill is Gone, but I suspect that reading them would have given me a deeper understanding of McGill. That's an omission I intend to rectify: Leonid McGill is an intriguing character -- a literate man who prefers the "rough-and-tumble of brutish men and their misplaced confidence" -- and I want to know him better.

McGill's father was a Marxist and although McGill seems rather apolitical, he likes to reminisce about his father's lessons, many of which pit working class heroes against corporate versions of robber barons. That might disturb those readers who don't want to read about political opinions in a mystery, or those who assume that a character's opinions necessarily reflect those of the author. Those readers might want to avoid this novel. To all other readers -- not just mystery fans but anyone who enjoys strong writing -- I recommend When the Thrill Is Gone.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MOSLEY'S THE MAN - ALWAYS SURPRISES, ALWAYS ENTERTAINS, March 17, 2011
Somehow it seems to me that the release of a new Walter Mosley book should be preceded by a brass band simply because for this reader he is one of the most exciting thriller writers working today. There's nothing predictable about Mosley's stories and characters are vividly realized. Who else would describe a muscular man as wearing "a white T-shirt that molded his well-defined physique like melted wax"? Or, "She was maybe ten pounds over her ideal weight but that just made her look better." Pictures immediately come to mind.

Mosley won me with his Easy Rawlins series and continues to intrigue with private investigator Leonid McGill. With WHEN THE THRILL IS GONE McGill is broke, a tad past middle age, his best friend is cancer stricken, his wife is playing house with a younger man, he no longer sets his mistress's heart aflutter, his smart but trouble prone son is involved in a scam, and an intrepid police detective is dead set on putting him behind bars.

Now, that's trouble enough but then an attractive African-American woman walks into his office and asks him to save her life. Seems her billionaire husband's first two wives met very untimely ends. But is she really the man's wife or pretending to be? McGill knows she's lying, but she easily dropped thousands on his desk - a sum he badly needs.

As always Mosley's writing is over the top great and the plot leaves us smiling, guessing, reading every word. This author has been called a national treasure, indeed - enjoy him.

- Gail Cooke
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I found that as life went on, the problems mounted and their solutions only served to make things worse.", March 8, 2011
Walter Mosley has created a private eye with a unique take on the world in Leonid McGill, son of Tolstoy McGill and brother to Nikita. Leonid's Father was a communist activist, a man for the worker, with a philosopher's tongue. When the Thrill is Gone opens with Leonid having been estranged from his father for many years. However, Leonid often refers to his father's adages to get him through life. And, like Dr. House, Leonid believes that everybody lies. "Almost everything you know or ever hear is a lie. Advertisements, politicians' promises, children's claims of accomplishments and innocence...your own memory."

This mystery opens when a woman named Chrystal Tyler walks into Leonid's office claiming that her husband Cyril is planning to kill her. She also believes he is having an affair because she can hear him talking to a woman on the phone late at night and he has lost a lot of weight lately. Leonid comes to find out that this woman, who claims to be Chrystal Tyler is really her sister Shawna. On top of that, Shawna is murdered soon after retaining Leonid's services, leaving five orphaned children. Leonid sets out to find Chrystal and to save her from possibly being murdered.

While he searches for Chrystal, he often philosophizes, utilizing pugilistic metaphors from his time in the ring and philosophical tidbits he picked up from his father. He worries about the lives he impacts. "I'd never been caught or convicted, not so much as indicted for the lives I'd shattered." As he searches for Chrystal, he finds out that Chrystal's husband has been married twice before and both of his wives have died mysteriously. Leonid has good reason to suspect Cyril Tyler of murder.

The story is quite complex with a huge array of characters and sub-plots. Leonid's personal life is not going too well either. His closest friend Gordo is dying of cancer in Leonid's apartment. Leonid's wife is having another affair, this time with a man half her age. His sons are giving him trouble. Dimitri is in Paris with the ex-girlfriend of a Russian gun runner. His other son, Twill, who is Leonid's favorite, is making a lot of money and not in an honest way. Leonid lets the reader know that his wife thinks she pulled a fast one on him as two of his three children are not his by blood, but are the children of other men. That doesn't matter much to Leonid who is wise to the scam. Dimitri is the only one of his children related to him by blood. He often wonders why he has remained married to his wife for so long. He has a way with the ladies and has a special one, Aura, who he loves. He has offered to divorce his wife and marry Aura but Aura is afraid that Leonid will die a violent death. In a previous book in this series, it was Aura who nursed Leonid back to health.

If you like your mysteries filled with quips, lots of sharp turns and rabbit trails, this is one for you. I especially liked Leonid's character and enjoyed looking at life from his perspective. I found the huge cast of characters somewhat confusing but focused primarily on the ones I thought were part of the big hunt. I think the book would have been better with fewer characters. Overall, however, this is a topnotch thriller worthy of the author.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhere between Above Average and Pretty Good, January 17, 2012
This review is from: When the Thrill Is Gone: A Leonid McGill Mystery (Paperback)
I have read most of Walter Mosley's works, so maybe I am getting tired of his style. But, to me his style is getting tired. I enjoyed the book the way you enjoy an old friend who comes to visit and wears out his welcome soon. I am tired of the protagonists who are flawed in ways that make them likeable. I am tired of indestructible Mosley side-kicks who cannot live up to Mouse from the Easy Rawlin's seris. I am tired of the protagonists who loves some woman so hard but cannot quite get that woman all to themselves. Mosley's book are becoming more like a so-so TV seris that I cannot stop watching but only because I don't have anything better to watch.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful yet compulsively readable., March 8, 2011
By 
avoraciousreader (Somewhere in the Space Time Continuum) - See all my reviews
When the Thrill is Gone
Walter Mosley 2011

Thoughtful yet compulsively readable. 5*

This is the third Leonid McGill novel, and if you've read the previous two ("The Long Fall" and "Known to Evil") it's largely more of the same, though his character continues to evolve. McGill is a licensed PI in contemporary, multicultural New York (in contrast to Mosley's more famous Easy Rawlins, an informal investigator at the opposite edge of the country, in an earlier period of racial near-separation). Though short and well into middle age, McGill is powerful and at times brutal, seething rage always ready to rise though seldom let loose. In the past, he had been a bad character, both professionally (he would track down a man for vengeful mobsters, or set an innocent up to take the fall for a crime) and in his personal life. These days he carefully considers the cases he takes on, and attempts to make amends in other ways, always reflective and aware of his self-contradictions.

"When the Thrill is Gone" is more a novel of Leonid McGill -- his history, his relations, his attempts to be a serious and good man, and his environment --than it is about plot per se. When he senses the old anger beginning to emerge, he does meditation exercises. He works out old karma by helping his former victims, or by simply acting for others' benefit. He stays with and supports his family, even though his wife has continual affairs and only one of their three children is actually his, and in spite of his love -- as carefully tamped down as his violence -- for another woman. As in other Mosley novels, McGill is exquisitely attuned to every racial nuance of skin shade (black, white, brown, blonde, and anywhere in between) and conduct, though it's a very different racial landscape from the 1950's Los Angeles of Easy Rawlins.

As for plot itself, McGill has a number of irons in the fire here as well. The official "case" involves a young woman, Chrystal Tyler, who comes to him for help. An artist married to a very -- very -- rich man, she professes to be afraid for her life, believing he is having an affair and she might die or disappear as his first two wives did seemingly accidentally. Leonid senses that "there was something wrong with Chrystal Tyler," but, interrupted by a phone call from "one of the most dangerous men in organized crime," he agrees to look into it and is given a very handsome retainer. Of course, all is not as it seems with Chrystal, not even her identity, though in the end there is more truth to her tale than not -- only it must be viewed through a skewed lens to finally make sense.

That "dangerous man" who interrupts Leonid's interview with Chrystal is one Harris Vartan, an old friend of Leonid's radical communist father, who wants Leonid to try to locate another old acquaintance who had dropped out many years ago, with minimal clues. With much misgiving, and only after getting Vartan's promise this is not a revenge gig, he takes on the case, which in the end will lead him deep into his personal past.

Beyond these PI-style investigations, there are several other threads going on. Leonid's computer geek on call, "Bug" or "Tiny" Bateman has a crush on Zephyra, Leonid's "Telephonic and Computer Personal Assistant," and following a hint from her is undergoing a brutal crash course at Leonid's gym, under the tutelage of Iran Shelfly, an ex-con Leonid had helped set up, and who he is giving a helping hand to now that he's out, "just one of a dozen private projects that [he'd] taken on." Meanwhile, all is not quiet on the home front either, with his favorite son (legally, not genetically) Twill running a new scam involving subway pass-cards that he has to figure out and put the kibosh on before he runs into serious trouble, another son, Dmitri, disappearing, probably for a rendezvous with a girlfriend Tatyana who's nothing but trouble, and trying to figure out just who his Valkyrie-blonde wife Katrina is having an affair with at the moment. Poor Leonid's got a lot on his plate, and is beginning to get stressed out.

This book will appeal to those who like their protagonists interesting and complex if not exactly likable. For my taste, Mosley's writing has gotten amazingly good from the rather austere prose of his early Easy Rawlins books. He effortlessly juggles the numerous characters and plot lines (though a second reading may help keep some of the minor characters straight for someone with a sieve of a mind like mine), and the bits of philosophy, or simply precise phrasing, are smoothly worked into the first person narrative, such that I find myself flagging something every few pages. Example: "Many and most moments go by with us hardly aware of their passage. But love and hate and fear cause time to snag you .... And when you're caught like that you're aware of every moment and movement and nuance." (p. 11)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When the Thrill is Gone, July 7, 2011
By 
Leonid Trotter McGill is a 55-year-old African-American man, an amateur boxer trying to turn his life around working as a private detective after having committed many dishonest acts in the past for which is trying to atone. His marriage is troubled, with both he and his wife having been unfaithful, and his girlfriend has ended their relationship because she envisions him coming to a violent end and doesn't want to have to endure that. Prominent in the novel are memories of his radical father, who apparently "was killed in some South American revolution," not longer after which his mother "died of a broken heart" when he was twelve. His father's Communist sympathies are evident in the fact that he called himself Tolstoy, and named his sons Leonid and Nikita; McGill in turn named his sons Twilliam and Dmitri.

The friends the author created for this troubled man in "Known to Evil," the first book in the series, are back, and "LT," as he is known to one and all, relies on them heavily: "Bug," a computer genius; "Hush," an assassin who can be counted on in difficult situations; and most importantly Gordo, his trainer in the ring and his surrogate father, now fighting cancer and ensconced in LT's home.

The writing is pure pleasure. Each character is meticulously described in a very distinctive and inimitable style. As well, the author [and his creation] have a philosophical bent, e.g., "The greatest natural disaster in the history of the world has been the human brain. Get rid of us and Eden will return unaided," and "Life is nothing without its challenges and only the dead are truly peaceful."

There are two major story lines. The first begins when a woman comes into LT's office stating that the first two wives of her billionaire husband came to untimely ends, and she fears her life is in danger. [This becomes more complicated when McGill becomes convinced that most of what the woman has told him is a lie.] But she pays him with a large amount of much-needed cash, and he agrees to take on the case.

The next investigation is at the behest of a man who was a close aide of his father, known as the Diplomat of Crime, who asks LT to find a former associate, giving him almost no information other than the man's name, telling him that he doesn't expect to pay him for this job, but that he will be in his debt if he is successful.

This is not a book to be read quickly; one must take enough time to appreciate the journey en route to what at first seemed to be an abrupt ending, which I hasten to add an instant later felt absolutely right. Recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now, What Was That Problem I Was Supposed to Solve?, June 14, 2011
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
"For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth." -- 2 Corinthians 13:8 (NKJV)

"'So glad,' she said. I knew instantly that this was a lie."

In the classic noir detective novels, a beautiful woman appears in the down-at-the-heels detective's office with some crazy story that he quickly realizes has little or no truth in it. Walter Mosley wastes no time letting us know that we are about to enter a world not unlike The Maltese Falcon where character (and character development) count for more than story and mystery. Temptation will hover like stale cigar smoke until it is wafted away.

If you haven't read The Long Fall and Known to Evil, you should definitely read those before starting When the Thrill is Gone. A lot of the relationships among the characters won't make nearly as much sense unless you do.

Leonid McGill has extracted himself from the world of being an amoral fixer who just looked out for his own interests. What will he do now that he's free of being at the beck and call of crooks and bent politicians? As seen in When the Thrill is Gone, he's still weak but he wants to live by a code of conduct just as much as Spenser does.

As the book opens, Leonid doesn't intend to work for the lying visitor, but she provides a bundle of cash that changes his mind. Before going to far, he wants to figure out what's going on. His doubts are quickly confirmed, and he's off to deal with a reclusive billionaire. Some of what follows is unusually funny for a noir novel, demonstrating Mr. Mosley's deft story-telling touch.

Other complications intrude. Both "sons" are involved in things that Leonid knows will lead to big trouble. A friend is dying of cancer in his apartment. His wife has taken on a new, and younger, lover. Aura is back in his life, but how close will she come? Harris Vartan, a friend of his father's, wants a man found as a favor. What's the hidden agenda here? Various young people are becoming attracted to one another, and Leonid is concerned that the right people find the right matches. If beautiful women tempt Leonid, how will he respond?

Above all else, When the Thrill Is Gone takes character development to a whole new penthouse level where the view is crystal clear and choices are sharply delineated and explored. If you found Leonid McGill to be appealing in the earlier stories, you'll find him to be fascinating in this book.

Where many complex stories tend to cause confusion, Mr. Mosley uses his complexities to sharpen contrasts, to expand understanding, and to open the reader's mind to new possibilities.

I liked this book best of the three in the series so far. I am excited about having the opportunity to read more books in the future. It will be a great time, I'm sure!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thriller with brains!, March 28, 2011
The third in a series - now I have the previous two on my wishlist.

I like well-written thrillers. Ones where the protagonist isn't the stereotypical "tough guy with an attitude". Leonid McGill IS a tough guy, one with a revolutionary father who quoted communist manifestos at him while he was growing up, with a wife who takes lovers, and children that aren't his 'blood children' (resulting from his wife's affairs), but that he loves anyway. He's also a champion of the underdog. His secretary Mardi murdered her incestuous father to save her sister from him, and he helped Iran Shelfly, a 32-year-old ex-con that he set up in his prior life, gain the management of his friend Gordo's boxing gym. He's a philosopher and a thinker, with a dark background that he's striving to stay away from in his private investigation business.

But when a woman walks into his office claiming that her wealthy husband is a serial killer, having murdered two previous wives, and that he is now out to kill her, Leonid takes on a case where things and people aren't always what they seem to be. On top of that, he has to deal with his son Twill and his budding criminal enterprise, and 73-year-old Harris Vartan, an organized crime boss and a former close aid to his union-organizing father, shows up asking him to track down a mysterious William Williams.

Usually in a thriller, you don't get a lot of character development, as all of the emphasis is on the action and the suspense. This novel is a great blend of action, mystery, suspense, AND character development, which makes it perfect even for readers whose first genre isn't thrillers. AND ... even though it's the third in a series, it's a great stand-alone book; I didn't feel as though I was missing out on whatever happened in the previous two books - it just made me want to get the others even more).

Highly recommended; I loved it and couldn't put it down.

QUOTES

A good friend was dying in my eleventh-floor apartment, and my wife was having an affair with a man half her age. And those were just the devils I knew.

Tyler was the classic milksop who happens to be a billionaire but reads adventure stories so that he can imagine himself a hero in a world where deeds and not money mattered.
I liked him.

There is no forgiveness for us. For people like you and me, guilt is an indulgence.

Writing: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Plot: 5 out of 5 stars
Characters: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Reading Immersion: 4.5 out 5 stars

BOOK RATING: 4.625 out of 5 stars
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Puzzle Wrapped Enigma, March 8, 2011
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.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a Stand Alone, June 2, 2011
By 
Richard A. Mitchell "Rick Mitchell" (candia, new hampshire United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
If you have read Leonid McGill books before this one, this review is not for you.

Walter Mosely was highly recommended to me as a terrific writer of mysteries so I picked this one up. At the outset it looked to be an intellectual noire mystery. However, it soon became obvious that a reader, such as I, who had not read previous Leonid McGill novels was a huge disadvantage.

Much of the underlying theme is about Leonid changing himself and dealing with his anger. Since I did not know him before, this theme meant little to me. The book is populated by a supporting cast who clearly have been in the prior books. It is difficult to understand or empathize with them since their history is not known. I am sure if the prior books had been read they would have meant much more to the reader.

The writing is good and some of the "wisdom" from Lionid's father is excellent. The plot is ok, but I found the book to be very slow filled with many small diverting stories that did not advance the plot or the characters.

This may well be a great book for McGill fans, but if this is your first, as it was for me, I suggest putting it down and starting at the beginning of the series. This does not stand alone well.
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When the Thrill Is Gone: A Leonid McGill Mystery
When the Thrill Is Gone: A Leonid McGill Mystery by Walter Mosley (Paperback - January 3, 2012)
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