Amazon Exclusive: Walter Mosley on Leonid McGill
My new detective series about the bad-guy-turned-good, Leonid McGill, has been a long time coming. As many of you know I cut my writing teeth on the Easy Rawlins series. Those novels are concerned with a time in L.A. (and America) when life was simple, black and white so to speak. Easy was an invisible soldier in an undeclared war where survival meant breaking the rules, and the laws, of a nation where inequality was the standard and class was a tattoo indelibly wrought on its citizens’ skins.
Leonid McGill, on the other hand, lives in the modern world. Rather than being a victim, he has spent his entire life as a victimizer working for professional criminals and other miscreants. He’s done jobs for the mob and bent businessmen looking to cut their losses; he’s robbed Peter to pay Paul and then turned in Paul for tax evasion.
In brief – Leonid McGill has not been a good man.
But Leonid has gotten as good as he’s given. Abandoned by his union organizing father at the age of twelve, Leonid watched his mother die of a broken heart within the next year. He’s gone from orphanage to foster home to the streets – fighting hard and never taking a backward step. He trained to be a boxer but found the ring of life to be a more suitable war.
Leonid is married with three children (though only one of them is his by blood). He and his wife have a relationship of sorts but there is little love in that bond. One gets the feeling that the only reason he hasn’t left this loveless union is that he just doesn’t know how to back down in a fight.
New York is not only McGill’s home but also the atmosphere he needs to survive. The city is his constitution and his nation. And so one day when he wakes up to realize that he has been on the wrong path for all of his fifty-odd years, Leonid does not abandon his home. Instead he decides to change direction against all the wrong that he’s done. Leonid is a man looking for redemption among the people he’s wronged in the city that he has betrayed.
This challenge will be the hardest battle the aging P.I. has ever taken on. The police have a lieutenant whose only assignment is bringing Leonid down. The mob has its hooks into Leonid, refusing to accept his resolve to go straight. His favorite teenage son Twill (the product of one his wife’s many affairs) is a loveable, and loving, sociopath who needs his father to run interference for the complex and brilliant troubles he gets into.
To say the least: Leonid is not your everyday detective. He is plagued by the deeds and victims of his criminal past and is therefore uncertain about the future. He has found love but holds back because of his hollow marriage. He is offered many jobs but often finds that the work itself unravels his vow to go straight.
Leonid’s human body and flawed past makes him a microcosm of America at a time when we are trying to turn the tide of history. He’s a hard-boiled hero in harder-still times; a six to one underdog in the most important fight of his life – or ours.
Easy Rawlins lived in my father’s world and the world of my father’s, and my own, people. Leonid McGill, however, lives in a world writ large. In Leonid’s America the truth is never only skin deep. And so to get at the underlying reality you definitely have to shed some blood.
Leonid is ready to bleed for what he now knows is right. He is a hero of the first order because he fights on with no promise, or even an inkling, of victory.
From Publishers Weekly
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