Walter Mosley’s Leonid McGill books are different than the standard issue PI fare. They’re different than his own Easy Rawlins ones. They’re hardboiled but they’re also…I don’t know. There’s a lot going on. You go headfirst into this world but Mosley refuses to let you see it all. The way he reveals things and keeps you guessing. These books are so transgressive against the typical PI fare.
I think that’s because Leonid McGill isn’t really a private eye. I mean, I guess he is in a technical sense. But the plots of these books (and When the Thrill Is Gone is no different) is basically an excuse to let McGill be a Virgil-type to what goes on behind the scenes in Manhattan, both in the corporate world and the underworld.
But McGill is also a full-time penitent. He doesn’t live with the guilt of his past misdeeds, as much as he tries to correct them because he doesn’t know what else to do with his time on the earth. It makes for a most fascinating character. You know all of who he is now but you’re only going to get glimpses of the mob fixer he was then.
The plot is convoluted in the way all of these are. I can barely remember the plots of the first two, and I’m already forgetting this one, but I distinctly remember McGill maneuvering his way through New York City like he owns every inch of it. These books are unlike anything else in the genre. And I think we’re all the better for it.