Friday, July 27, 2012

Known to Evil by Walter Mosley

"Years of orphanages and foster homes, uneducated teachers and corrupt officials, from crossing guards to the president of entire nations, have shown me the Einstein was right: the connection between A and B is questionable at best, and there' no such thing as a straight line."

Known to Evil is the second book in a series by Walter Mosley featuring Leonid McGilll, a African American private detective working in modern day New York City. McGill is asked to check on a young girl, to make sure of her well being. An odd request, but it came from a special assistant--so special that he doesn't exist on paper--to City Hall, so McGill accepts. When he shows up at the girl's apartment, it is a crime scene, and she is nowhere to be found. His search for the girl pulls McGill back into circles that he had purposely left behind long ago.

Race is nearly always an important factor in Mosley's works. However, Mosley's approach to race in the McGill series is markedly different from his Easy Rollins or Socrates Fortlow series. Rather than floating on the surface, demanding to be seen, issues of race are a strong undercurrent. McGill's is married to a Scandinavian woman. His son has fallen in love with a Russian prostitute and become mixed up in her less than savory world--a problem with McGill has to address. Mosley describes the color of people's skin like he does their clothing. In the hand s of Mosley, race has the feel of being simultaneously important and inconsequential.

Mosley uses the detective story framework to analyze relationships between the characters that populate McGill's world. Ideas of innocence and honesty take on new dimensions when viewed through the prism of this PI's world.

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