BookBrowse Reviews Down the River unto the Sea by Walter Mosley

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

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
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2018, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2019, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


Joe King Oliver must beat dirty cops and dirtier bankers, craven lawyers, and above all keep his daughter far from the underworld in which he works.

In his latest stand-alone crime novel, Walter Mosley continues to write thought-provokingly about interesting, colorful and multi-dimensional characters. They are complex people, some that you might think twice about inviting into your home, but with whom you'd like to have a conversation over a good meal and a fine bourbon, neat.

Joe King Oliver is a former New York City policeman. He's divorced with a teenaged daughter named Aja-Denise who works for him part time at the front desk of his private detective agency. Joe is a chess playing, Hesse reading, fan of detective novels and Thelonious Monk. He's also a man carrying a heavy grudge and it weighs on his every move. It began over a decade ago when, as a cop, he was dispatched to arrest a car thief.

At first it seemed like a slam-dunk. The stolen vehicle was parked at the curb and the alleged thief – a young woman – not only answered the door, but invited Joe in. From there it didn't take much for her to lure him into what became a trap. The ultimate result of his admittedly ill-advised carnal indulgence with her was that his wife left him, he got booted off the force, and he landed in Rikers prison where he received a typical cop's welcome. He still bears the scars.

Only by the grace of a good friend in the department did he escape even more severe punishment at the hands of his fellow inmates. And then, once out, it was he who helped Joe set himself up in his own PI agency. Today Joe is older, wiser, but still bitter because he knows he was set up. He just doesn't know by whom or why – until he receives a letter from that car thief.

It seems she has found God and wants to confess and repent; make amends for the role she played in his setup. She names names. Coincident with this revelation is a new client, flush with cash and information, who wants to hire Joe to investigate why a Black activist is being framed for the murder of two cops. He decides to take both cases on. He knows it's crazy but, "A man can live his whole life following the rules set down by happenstance and the cash-coated bait of security-cosseted morality; an entire lifetime and in the end he wouldn't have done one thing to be proud of."

So Joe teams up with Melquarth Frost, a man of uncertain sanity and a bank-robbing killer of an ex-con who makes and repairs watches and who owes Joe a favor. "I followed him up the stairs and out into a fate filled with madmen and red birds, nameless cops and women who fooled you again and again."

It is the first of several uneasy partnerships Joe has to make throughout the complicated dual investigations. However he knows he can't go it alone: "I learned a lot since I was a police detective thinking he could do it on his own...I learned that reading is important, that law is an ever-changing variable equation, and that a man is a fool if he works alone."

Joe searches for answers. Following a trail of blind alleys, crooked cops, dangerous felons and dead ends that challenged my ability to keep up, Joe rolls with and through the punches. But Down the River Unto the Sea is all good. With Mosley at the helm the means is every bit as rewarding as the end.

Reviewed by Donna Chavez

This review was originally published in February 2018, and has been updated for the February 2019 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Women Talking
    Women Talking
    by Miriam Toews
    Miriam Toews' Women Talking is a circadian novel, unfolding over a span of just a few hours and ...
  • Book Jacket: Confessions of an Innocent Man
    Confessions of an Innocent Man
    by David R. Dow
    It is circumstance that carries the wave that sweeps trendy Houston restaurateur Rafael Zhettah to ...
  • Book Jacket: Memories of the Future
    Memories of the Future
    by Siri Hustvedt
    I've never kept a journal, but my mother has written in hers for years, the annual volumes she's ...
  • Book Jacket: Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss
    Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss
    by Rajeev Balasubramanyam
    Rajeev Balasubramanyam encapsulates the theme of Professor Chandra Follows his Bliss in its first ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Affairs of the Falcóns
    by Melissa Rivero

    A beautiful, urgent novel about the lengths one woman is willing to go to build a new life.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Greek to Me
    by Mary Norris

    The Comma Queen returns with a buoyant book about language, love, and the wine-dark sea.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
An American Marriage
by Tayari Jones

A masterpiece of storytelling, and a 2018 Oprah's Book Club Selection.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Book Club Giveaway!
Win Ecstasy

Win copies to share with friends or your book club!

Ecstasy reveals the true Alma Mahler: composer, author, daughter, mother, wife, lover, and muse.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A B Penny A T U

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.