Excerpt from Down the River unto the Sea by Walter Mosley, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Down the River unto the Sea

by Walter Mosley

Down the River unto the Sea by Walter Mosley X
Down the River unto the Sea by Walter Mosley
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2018, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 26, 2019, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

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1.

Looking out from my second-floor window onto Montague Street is better than the third-floor view. From here you can almost make out the lines in the faces of the hundreds of working people moving past; people who, more and more, have no reason to walk through the doors of the fancy shops and banks that have made their claim on that thoroughfare. These new businesses are like modern-day prospectors panning for gentrified, golden customers who will buy the million-dollar condos and fancy clothes, eat in the French bistros, and buy wine for a hundred dollars a bottle.

When I took this office, almost eleven years ago now, there were used-book stores, secondhand clothes shops, and enough fast food to feed that displaced army of workers in Brooklyn Heights. That's when Kristoff Hale offered me a twenty-year renewable lease because another cop, Gladstone Palmer, had overlooked his son Laiph Hale's involvement in the brutal attack on a woman; a woman whose only offense was to say no.

Three years later Laiph went to prison for another beating, one that got bargained down to manslaughter. But this had nothing to do with me; I had the lease by then.

My maternal grandmother always tells me that every man gets what he deserve.

* * *

Thirteen years earlier I was a cop too. I would have tried to put Laiph in prison for the first assault, but that's just me. Not everyone sees the rules the same. The law is a flexible thing—on both sides of the line—influenced by circumstance, character, and, of course, wealth or lack of same.

My particular problem with women was, at one time, my desire for them. It didn't take but a smile and wink for me, Detective First Class Joe King Oliver, to walk away from my duties and promises, vows and common sense, for something, or just the promise of something, that was as transient as a stiff breeze, a good beer, or a street that couldn't maintain its population.

For the last thirteen years I have been somewhat less influenced by my sexual drives. I still appreciate the opposite, sometimes known as the fairer, sex. But the last time I acted on instinct I ran into so much trouble that I believed I was pretty much cured of my roaming ways.

* * *

Her name was Nathali Malcolm. She was a modern-day Tallulah Bankhead, with the husky voice, quick wit, and that certain something that defined the long-ago starlet. My dispatcher, the same Sergeant Gladstone Palmer, called via cell phone to give me the assignment.

"It should be easy, Joe," Palmer assured me. "It's basically a favor for the chief of Ds."

"But I'm on that portside thing, Glad. Little Exeter always makes his move on Wednesdays."

"That means he'll be doin' it next Wednesday and the one after that," my sergeant reasoned.

Gladstone and I had come through the academy together. He was white Irish and I was a deep shade of brown, but that never affected our friendship.

"I'm close, Glad," I said, "real close."

"That may very well be, but Bennet's in a hospital bed with a punctured lung and Brewster messes up two out of every five collars. You need a point or two on your sheet this year anyway. You spend so much time at the docks you don't make half the arrests you need to keep your numbers up to snuff."

He was right. The one place the law was not flexible was in statistics. Criminal arrests and convictions, the retrieval of stolen property, and competent investigation that leads to crime solution were what our professional careers hinged on. I had a big case in front of me, but it might be a year before I could wrap it up.

"What's the offense?" I asked.

"GTA."

"Just one cop for a chop shop?"

"Nathali Malcolm. Stole a Benz from Tremont Bendix of the Upper East Side."

Excerpted from Down the River unto the Sea by Walter Mosley. Copyright © 2018 by Walter Mosley. Excerpted by permission of Mulholland. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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