Down The River Unto The Sea by Walter Mosley
Joe King Oliver was one of the NYPD’s finest investigators until, dispatched to arrest a well-heeled car thief, he is framed for assault, a charge that lands him in the notorious Rikers Island prison.
A decade later, King is a private detective, running his agency with the help of his teenage daughter, Aja-Denise. When he receives a card in the mail from the woman who admits she was paid by someone in the NYPD to frame him all those years ago, King realises that he has no choice but to take his own case: figuring out who on the force wanted him disposed of – and why.
At the same time, King must investigate the case of black radical journalist Leonard Compton, aka A Free Man, accused of killing two on-duty police offices who had been abusing their badges to traffic drugs and women into the city’s poorest neighbourhoods.
In pursuit of justice, our hero must beat dirty cops and even dirtier bankers. All the while, two lives hang in the balance: Compton’s, and King’s own.
‘My maternal grandmother always tells me that every man gets what he deserves’
13 years ago Joe King Oliver was a cop. Not just any cop, one of the NYPD’s finest officers. When he is framed for a sexual assault and thrown in Rikers. Jail isn’t easy for any man, but it’s certainly not easy, when you come face to face with convicts you apprehended. Rikers will chew up and spit out dirty cops or leave them for dead……
‘Just a few days and I’d switched allegiances from cop to criminal. I thought that was the worst thing….. but I was wrong’
We then learn of Joe’s present-day life. The life he has managed to build after his police record and good name was ruined. He is now a private detective, working mostly mistress cases or whatever comes his way. His teenage daughter Aja helps him with his business and he has an often-volatile relationship with his ex-wife Monica. His best friend and fellow cop Goldstone, has helped him get on his feet and thrown some cases his way. But his life changes the day he receives a letter from his alleged victim. She claims she was forced into testifying and now she has turned her life around, she wants to make amends.
Joe is given the chance to clear his name!
‘The law is a flexible thing – on both sides of the line – influenced by circumstances, characters, and of course wealth or lack thereof’
At the same time Joe is also accosted to take on the case of Leonard Compton aka A Free Man. The case is one that strikes at the heart of what Joe believes.
As Leonard claims he was set up my two dirty cops.
Eugene ‘Yolo’ Valence and Anton Pratt are the two cops in question. When Joe does some digging, he quickly learns of their criminal endeavours, selling drugs to kids and kids to child molesters. It’s a murky world we live in and one Joe can’t clean-up on his own!
“I learned that reading is important, that law is an ever-changing variable equation, and that a man is fool if he works alone” – Joe
The introduction of new characters, is something always relished in any Walter Mosley novel. They always have a backstory and usually described with a witty one liner such as ‘wise as a prophet and crafty as a fox’. Mosley’s writing is second to none!
Walter Mosley writes about his characters with such exceptional detail, you get the impression he has observed people and the various ways they carry themselves.
‘There comes a time when a man has to stand up and be heard; a time when their hearts do not outweigh his freedom’ – Joe
The plot has added suspicion, suspense and mistrust. When Joe also discovers the downfall of his past, may be linked to another dirty cop! Where does he go from here? How does he solve corruption that has spread with the police force?
“I learned that anyone can be brought low no matter how high or powerful they are”
The novel explores Joe’s past, Yolo & Pratt’s child victims, police corruption and the real meaning of justice. This is without a doubt diverse literature for the intelligent eye. The dialogue is first-rate, the characters are authentic not ‘perfect’ examples but flawed real people with deep pain. The novel continues to develop right to the last page. I love the way Walter Mosley writes. He adds his iconic style and wisdom to every sentence.
In my opinion, he really is a writing legend! 5*
“You have to love what you do or you end up hating yourself” – Joe