‘All I Did Was Shoot My Man’

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The dirty glasses haven’t quite made it to the kitchen yet.

They’re still communing with last weeks’ newspaper in the living room, while dust bunnies dance with cookie crumbs strewn on the carpet. Forgotten toys lie everywhere and your sweatshirt is right where you left it, balled up as a pillow on the sofa.

So you made a mess. It’s called “living,” you’re not ashamed, and you’ll deal with it later. But in the novel “All I Did Was Shoot My Man” by Walter Mosley, another mess needs cleaning up soon—or somebody dies.

Zella Grisham always said that she was innocent.

Yes, it was her storage unit that had held some of the $58 million stolen from a capital holding firm nine years ago. Yes, she’d shot her boyfriend three times for cheating on her with her best friend, but the heist?  No, Zella always claimed she didn’t have anything to do with that.

Leonid T. McGill believed her. He believed her because it was he who set her up to take the fall for grand larceny.

It was a scam that McGill had pulled before without problem but this time, it looked like there was trouble. With Zella out of prison, there were people who wanted to talk with her, a lot of people who figured that she knew where the rest of the cash was. They figured McGill did, too, because he was suddenly involved with Zella and he was not known for being squeaky-clean.

What they didn’t know—and neither did Zella—was that McGill was also the one who sprung her from prison.

But in the midst of sorting out the mess, and while trying to keep Zella protected from thugs, McGill’s biggest nemesis warned him that he wasn’t safe. Three other men suspected of planning the heist were all dead, and it appeared that someone wanted McGill to join them. That notion was underscored when two professional gunmen broke into his house in the middle of the night with assassination on their minds.

Through the years, Leonid McGill had annoyed a lot of people in New York City. Sure, he had enemies. But this time, he wasn’t sure who the enemy was.

There’s something about a Leonid McGill mystery that I truly do love.

Maybe it’s that author Walter Mosley strongly reminds his readers of trench coats, black-and-white movies, rainy streets, and Maltese falcons, even though this book is set in modern-day New York. Or maybe it’s that his main character is smart, wise, and cooler than a polar bear’s nose. Then again, I might love this series because, each time, Mosley gives his readers a little more about McGill and his (under)world, which only makes us want to visit it again and again.

(“All I Did Was Shoot My Man” by Walter Mosley, c.2012, New American Library $15/$16 Canada, 327 pages.)

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