And Sometimes I Wonder About You
Review by: Mark Palm
I have read Walter Mosley before, but this is my first Leonid McGill novel. Mr. Mosley has written four other novels about the New York detective and former thug who happens to be named after a famed leader of the Soviet Union. Mr. Mosley is generally considered to be one of the best writers in the “crime” genre, and all of his talents are on display in And Sometimes I Wonder About You.
Leonid is working a case when he meets a classic femme fatale, Marella, years younger than himself. He helps her out and the two begin a passionate affair. His wife Katrina is in a sanitarium recovering from an attempted suicide, his affair with Aura, the woman who manages the building that houses his office is at a standstill, and his absentee father has finally decided to show his face. Also his son, Twill, who works for Leonid, is in danger; in trying to help a thief named Fortune, Twill has fallen in with a group of thieves who work underground for a mysterious Fagin-like mastermind named Jones. Jones and his followers are responsible for scores of murders and robberies and other crimes.
That’s just McGill’s personal life. He turns down the case of a vagrant who is set to inherit millions, than later finds that the man, Hiram Stent, has been murdered. Also his office has been broken into, and the security guard killed, so McGill returns to the case and ends up facing down a corrupt patrician family, some of whom are hiding the crimes of a serial killer. There are dozens of other characters in this novel, including an ex-assassin-turned chauffeur, a couple of world-class hackers, boxers, trainers, and a police captain who vacillates between helping McGill and trying to arrest him.
This could have been a mind-boggling mess, except for Mr. Mosley’s controlled prose, and sure hand. As it was I occasionally had to flip back and forth a bit to try and remember who was who, but for the most point the crowded cast and twisty plot went down easily, because each of the characters, no matter how brief their appearance, were distinct and real enough to stand on their own.
Now and then, when the plot seemed ready to run off the rails, and the villains threatened to become cartoons Mr. Mosley’s assured prose brought the book back to earth with a few beautifully well-turned phrases. There were times when I felt that Mr. Mosley was just plain having a blast, using the genre’s cliches, then turning them inside-out, just because he has the nerve and the talent to do so.
In the end, after numerous plot-ends are tied up, McGill survives the final slam-bang action filled dramatic battle, bloody but unbowed, with his life more or less in order, and ready for his next case. Judging from And Sometimes I Wonder About You I will be there too.