Walter Mosley is a fantastic writer, and we are blessed that he is not only so prolific but that he writes in so many genres. His crime fiction has won an Edgar Award, and he has many novels for you to choose from, both standalones and series. I’m going to take you through his Leonid McGill series, which follows a New York city P.I. trying to set his life right and is an excellent modern noir series.
Here we are introduced to Leonid McGill, a 50-year-old ex-boxer, old-school-style, morally complex P.I. working in New York, where the city is never not in need of help. He takes a high-paying job that starts out easy enough until former classmates start being beaten to death. And that’s obviously a problem, but not quite as bad as the trained killer that comes for McGill. Run, Boo, run–or, you know, figure out what’s going on and save yourself.
So there’s a second book, which means spoiler: McGill lived–yay! But things are still not easy because trying to live a good life is hard, especially in a city filled with temptation. Case in point: he’s broken up with his girlfriend in order to be better to his wife. But his ex’s new boyfriend comes looking for trouble, and his son’s new girlfriend brings trouble, too. Listen, it’s a lot of family drama, as many families have. How’s work going? He’s trying to find a missing woman for a City Hall fixer who isn’t giving McGill all the info, and that's making him uncomfortable, but he can’t say no to the job…
Let’s start with the personal drama, shall we? McGill’s wife has a new lover and a jealous ex putting everyone in danger. His best friend is living on his couch. His son dropped out of school. AND his ex-girlfriend is back. That’s a lot of drama plates to juggle. And as for work? Well, the economy has beaten his business, and he’s been having to say yes to criminal clients, which makes the whole trying-to-live-a-better-life thing not the easiest pursuit. And then the femme fatal walks in with a lot of cash and a job…
That title–dying! This time McGill has a case of a woman who never denied shooting her boyfriend but the shooting had grand theft charges also added and he wants to reopen the case. He’s leaning towards innocent. Problem: there’s a family secret that may come out if he goes forth, and no one ever wants family secrets coming out. Can all the truths emerging from the past be forgiven?
I’m sure you’ve noticed a theme by now, and it’s that McGill is caught between trying to stay afloat at work and in his private life. Drama sure does follow this trying-to-go-straight man! His wife is in a mental health hospital and his son is ignoring work to help a thief. For work, his client is an unemployed man who suddenly wants to find his cousin because (surprise!) his cousin is about to inherit millions. And then the man is found dead. That’s gonna be a tough case.
Bonus: The series audiobooks have some amazing narrators: Mirron Willis, Prentice Onayemi, and Dion Graham!
What to Read Next
Jamie Canavés is a Book Riot contributing editor and Tailored Book Recommendations coordinator who always has a book in one hand. She writes the Unusual Suspects mystery newsletter, never says no to chocolate or ‘80s nostalgia, and spends way too much time asking her goat-dog “What’s in your mouth?!” Tweets: @Oh_Dinky.