Plot or Premise
What I Liked
Mosley always creates compelling characters (like Easy Rawlins) and Joe King Oliver is no exception. Much of what you see is part of a long history … the story could have been told as a Western, or as pulp noir with Sam Spade, or as Spenser for Hire (or any of Robert B. Parker’s characters really). It is a “man’s story” taking care of “his business”, in a dark world that is full of violence which he would prefer to avoid but willing to endure when necessary. The main case (Oliver’s own) is compelling, but a little light in places. Where it falters, the case of his client steps in to keep the story moving. It was an Edgar Award nominee, and it was well-deserved.
What I Didn’t Like
His family (daughter and ex-wife) are a bit too much in the background (i.e., Oliver keeps the women-folk safe, so to speak), his relationship with an ex-prostitute beyond confused, and the relationship with his mentor obvious long before a revelation.
The Bottom Line
Great character, great story, a few weak spots