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Book Review of: All I Did Was Shoot My Man
A Leonid McGill Mystery
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All I Did Was Shoot My Man, by Walter Mosley (Softcover, 2011)|
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Normally, I do not review works of fiction. But this was a Walter Mosley novel, and so I was happy to read and review it. I had not previously read Mosley books in paper format, but had heard a few Mosley audio books read by a professional narrator. In particular, they were the Easy Rawlins mysteries read by the amazing Paul Winfield. Something about Winfield's delivery just takes audio listening to a whole new level.
Though I thoroughly enjoyed this read, I still might get the audio version just for the pleasure of it. Especially if Paul Winfield is the reader.
The Mosley works that I've enjoyed have a gritty, believable quality to them. The characters sound real to my "reading ear" (and, as noted, to my listening ear when read by Paul Winfield). See the note at the end of this review about a believability exception in this book.
A friend visiting me from out of town noticed this book and asked about it. I was happy to point out something unusual about Mosley. Many authors will keep writing about a given character way past the point of absurdity. Pictures of dry wells and dead horses being flogged come to mind when I read those books. They should think up a new character, but they don't.
By contrast, Mosley has produced, from his brilliant mind, several characters. I really like Easy Rawlins and now find that Leonid McGill is another character I like to read about.
In keeping with Mosley tradition, the characters are lifelike rather than cartoonish. Some authors try to paint the lead characters as nearly flawless heroes, then give you a weak villain to play off of. Yet, it's the villain who "makes" the hero. Mosley understand this. His villains, like his protagonists, are complex rather than cardboard.
This story is a potboiler with a surprise ending (that fact should not be surprising, considering how adroit Mosley is at this sort of thing). I won't go into the plot, as that would spoil the story for the reader. However, I will say the plot is no simple formula-driven, crank out another novel thing. It's complex with many seemingly unconnected trails that eventually meet, yet the reader doesn't have to strain to keep track of who did what where. It just flows. And it flows at a fast pace.
Adding a richness to this story is a theme I noticed. I live in Kansas City, which is noted for Jazz. And where you have Jazz, you have Blues artists. Some of the stuff performed locally can make you see God. The cover of this book is blue. The characters have the kinds of lives that make me think of the Blues while reading. These characters live the same kinds of life complications that Blues singers sing about. Just the details are different.
If you're the kind of reader who appreciates a well-told story with characters you care about, you will find this book hard to put down until you have finished it.
The believability exception
One exception to believability in this work is the question "Is the President black?" is posed as if the answer is "yes." It doesn't seem believable that characters this savvy could be dim enough to buy this lie. In America, "black man" has a particular meaning, and it's a cultural one rather than a genetic one. By no stretch of the imagination is this Ivy League millionaire immigrant (no family history of oppression and discrimination in this country) a "black man."
Given the massive damage Obama's "suck capital from the economy" (and send it to Goldman Sachs, etc.) activities have done to the job market, especially for blacks (look up the numbers, it's shocking), I can't imagine why any working person of any color would want to be associated with Obama (regardless of Obama's genetics, race, etc.--non factors, IMO).
The race-baiting lying done purely to deceive blacks into giving up their voting power to Barrack "I destroy jobs" Obama instead of freely voting in their own best interests should not be promoted by anybody, most especially this otherwise outstanding author.
About these reviews
You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?
I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?
And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.
This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.
My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.
A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.
About your reviewer
About reading style
No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.
Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.