Fear Itself by Walter Mosley
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'm not a black man. Walter Mosley is, so I assume he's writing from experience and knows what he's talking about. As such, it's nice to read crime drama/detective stories with well-round portraits of black men and women, men and women that the reader can believe in.
Having said that, I didn't know what the hell was going on for half the time in Fear Itself. Now, part of that was intentional. Mosley held the old wool over my eyes for a while on purpose. On the other hand, there were times when the action and dialogue got somewhat muddied up, and I don't think that was intentional. This was not the strongest narrative story the author's ever composed, that's for sure.
It does have its strong points though. The Southern California setting description is enjoyable for someone like myself who's spent some time there. The eccentrics that pop up are delightful distractions.
Here's a point which I'm not sure falls under strong or weak point: the main character. The diminutive and mild-mannered Paris Minton, a bookshop owner, is no hero. In fact, at times he's a coward. However, when the chips are down, the man stands up. The anti-hero is all the rage in literature these days, but the Paris character doesn't feel like a bandwagoner. He seems like the genuine article underdog. He feels realistic. He doesn't always do the right thing. He wants to do the right thing, but he's generally more concerned for himself. I'm kind of disgusted by him at times. All that may have even lessened my overall enjoyment of the book, but by god, I respect Mosley for that!
If you haven't figured it out by now, I like Walter Mosley. From what I've read, his books may not go down amongst the great literary works of our time. They should, however, be considered as valuable in their own right.
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