Messy, intricately complicated, and full of boxing boxing metaphors, that is how Private Detective Leonid McGill’s life is before he even leaves his home in the morning. His wife is having an affair, but that is okay, because he is in love with someone else. His former boxing coach and the closest thing to a father figure he has is dying of cancer in his den. None of his children are biologically related to him, but he doesn’t let that stop him from loving them as if they were. No matter, McGill takes it all in stride and tries his best to right the wrongs that he did in the past.
He knows that everybody lies, so when a beautiful woman comes into his office, plops down $12, 600 in cash on his desk and tells him that she thinks her husband is going to kill her, he knows that there is more to the story. Still, the economy has hit hard, even in the PI business, he says that he will take the case.
Think noir with a touch of color, When the Thrill is Gone, is a sort of Sam Spade for 2011. Cynical, a shade on the dark side of legal, but ultimately a good guy, trying to do the right thing, that is what McGill offers. It isn’t as dark and disturbing as other novels you may have read, yet it still reads just as authentic without all of the sex and gore that just seems supercilious and unnecessary in other works.
My one complaint is that the character, and I am guessing therefore author, is obsessed with height. McGill is on the short side for a man, 5’ 5.5”, and with the introduction of each and every new person in the story, he has to compare his height to theirs. Can we say Napoleon complex?
I got over that and you will too.
When the Thrill is Gone by Walter Mosley