I'm almost finished with my first listen to Chester Himes' Coffin Ed/Gravedigger books. Chester Himes was one of the predecessors to many detective novelists today (along with those before him, i.e. Chandler, Hammett, etc) who was largely ignored by the media due to his color. Only now, due to the resurgence of awareness AND admiration for minority writers (Walter Mosley, Junot Diaz, etc.) and the acceptance of minority voices in all forms of literature, are Himes' mysteries being reprinted and now voiced by Dion Graham. The stories themselves can appear as campy pulp fiction, but Himes' writing, and Graham's voice overshadow any cartoonish happenings with Ed & Gravedigger. It's really good to see that Audible & the publishing industry are opening doors and making one of the forgotten writers on the 20th century available to all of us.
HOLY SH*T....I haven't even listened to this or read the novel yet, but I have been waiting for this day for two years! I discovered McGee 12 years ago during my teen years and never finished the series. When I became an Audible member I checked every two months to see if McDonald and McGee had docked the Flush on Audible.
Just got an email on my lunch break and downloaded Book 5 sitting in class. Can't wait to listen to it....I'm hoping Petkoff if awesome, but even if he isn't, MacDonald and McGee will make up for it.
Now just waiting for DiCaprio (or whoever) to find enough cojones to bring the big guy to the big screen.
*NOTE: SPOILER INCLUDED (if you've read the previous book "When the Thrill", then it's not a spoiler)
I have long been a fan of Walter Mosley, and perhaps the only one I know of who liked Leonid McGill almost as much as Easy Rawlins from the start. This is because, though Easy tells a more base, raw story (having a racist, Civil-Rights world around him), Leonid is much more multi-faceted and complex, with a highly intelligent voice and dealing with many more problems than Easy. For this reason, McGill stands as the more relevant of the two heroes, if not the more popular. Hopefully (if Mosley gets his wish) Jeffrey Wright can bring McGill to HBO's small screen with all the intelligence Mosley has poured onto his pages. "All I Did" has been criticized as being too convoluted a story, but if you read it quickly, you won't get lost, and Mosley keeps you reading quickly. Every member of McGill's family brings problems for him to solve (the wife is a drunk, his oldest son moves out, his daughter is sleeping with an older married man, and his criminal genius youngest child works for him but makes his own decisions on his first case). Not to mention he has to solve a decades-old robbery, keep himself and his client alive, and is still searching for a father who has been resurrected*. And why should it not be this way? Don't we all have a myriad of trials and victories each day we live?
Mosley weaves his six or seven subplots better than most, and gives us a hero we can believe in, because despite his external windmills, this dark-skinned Quixote is a man from our time, seeking the same redemption we are all searching for (as Americans, as humans)...to be ever better than we were the day before.
Mirron Willis, though he emphasizes EVERY letter, reads clearly, with the intelligence deserving of Leonid McGill's voice.
With further character and story development, and leaving us with a cliff-hanger ending, this is the best of the series thus far.
I cannot give this five stars because I can't think of a book I've read without flaws except maybe the Bible...Coben's plotting is pretty darn good, with decent plot twists and a never-saw-it-coming end but the 3 stars come from the slightly annoying Myron Bolitar and the cartoon caricature sidekick Win (sp?)...I can't suspend disbelief long enough to buy into two characters that deal with such violence and terrorist plots with so much James Bond-like flippancy. It's hard for me to become tense or moved to tears in one chapter when something deep or dangerous happens when these two clowns have been trading jokes (like the consistent puns on the Asian girlfriend named "Me"...really?) for three hours.
Weber's narration is great and fits the character, it's just hard to buy into the character himself. But again...Coben's plotting is awesome...just wish his character took things a bit more seriously. But...I would encourage others to give him a try...he's a bestseller for a reason.
This, the third of Mosley's McGill mysteries, isn't his best work (and I'm not even comparing this to Easy Rawlins like COUNTLESS other readers still do)...in my opinion it's his 2nd book "Known To Evil" that stands the strongest. This one reads like a weekly TV series entry and there is no huge plot twist or involving mystery. With Mosley, there never is...he's no Jeffrey Deaver...but it's his beautiful prose and character depth that always shines and it does here. The best thread running through this book is the subplot "favor" that McGill is doing for his "Uncle" and the revelation it leads to, along with Leonid's new take on his hatred for his father. This one is a great character study for Leonid, but not a superb mystery. Loyal fans (like myself) will love it, newcomers may sulk.
The story isn't as heartfelt or convoluted as some of his earlier works...or as poignant and relevant as 'Little Scarlet'...but Mosley's poetic prose and the way he airbrushes his characters make for great storytelling as usual. And Michael Boatman's narration gives voice to a classic detective hero as well as the angels and demons he navigates in finding the truth. Some readers overdo female voices or drop three or four octaves when reading as bad guys but Boatman strikes the correct pitch each time. A sad ending to a great series, but a fitting one...Easy's place is secured in ten novels and he doesn't become a caricature (like Spenser), having thirty plus stories on a shelf.
Mosley is a grand wordsmith whose words are utilitarian so as not to be too flamboyant, and yet he remains poetic and is able to invoke realism and authentic music to his characters.
Boatman is a perfect choice for putting a voice to Easy...he moves seamlessly from old man to young woman, black hospital patient to white policeman. Kudos.
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