Down the River Unto the Sea

Down the River Unto the Sea

From trailblazing novelist Walter Mosley: a former NYPD cop once imprisoned for a crime he did not commit must solve two cases: that of a man wrongly condemned to die, and his own. 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 by his enemies within the NYPD, a charge which lands him...

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Title:Down the River Unto the Sea
Author:Walter Mosley
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Down the River Unto the Sea Reviews

  • Paromjit

    I am always going to read the latest Walter Mosley book as I have read every single thing he has written. His books have a special place in my heart and even though there is much that feels familiar in this one, I still loved it. It might not quite be there with the Easy Rawlins series, but Mosley still has me with his ability to create a large cast of memorable characters, even when they only have minor roles and his exceptional skills in writing and dialogue. Our central character here is Joe

    I am always going to read the latest Walter Mosley book as I have read every single thing he has written. His books have a special place in my heart and even though there is much that feels familiar in this one, I still loved it. It might not quite be there with the Easy Rawlins series, but Mosley still has me with his ability to create a large cast of memorable characters, even when they only have minor roles and his exceptional skills in writing and dialogue. Our central character here is Joe King Oliver, a proud, gifted and upstanding black cop with NYPD, who ends up incarcerated in Rikers Island Prison for rape and sexual assault charges after being framed by shadowy forces in the police force. Prison breaks him completely and he only survives after being transferred to solitary. He is shaken to find he has a killer within him and traumatised as his life falls apart, his wife disowns him, refusing to bail him. After a little more than 90 days, he is released as charges are dropped. Sergeant Gladstone helps him piece together a life as a private investigator, and 10 years later he is being helped by his precious daughter, Aja-Denise.

    Oliver is a troubled figure, still experiencing a form of PTSD after NYPD insisted on letting him go with no pension or benefits. His past rears its ugly head when he receives a letter from the woman who set him up, expressing her guilt, how she was forced to entrap him and her need to put things right publicly. She has a name of the cop behind it. Joe now feels he can take on his own case, especially as Aja has now grown up. He begins to pull at the threads of the leads he has, looking for a partner to work the case with him. To this end, he hones in on sociopath and killer, Melquash Frost, who feels he owes Joe, and Mel proves his worth as Joe is forced to drop below the radar when his life is threatened. However, Joe feels a dissonance in his values and identity, leading to a shift from his previous conventional morality, to more ambiguous terrain, pushed there by his implacable, powerful and ruthless enemies. Simultaneously, Joe takes on the case of A Free Man, a man convicted of the shooting of 2 cops, on death row, but a man, who like him, has been framed. It slowly becomes apparent there are connections between the two cases and it appears that justice in either case is beyond reach.

    Mosley writes a compelling tale of injustice and a police force unwilling to acknowledge its murderous and corrupt history amidst a New York that includes gangsters, heroin addicts, damaged souls and the survival of indomitable spirits, against all the odds. I imagine Joe King Oliver will have other outings, at least I hope so. I found his complex character, with his loving relationship with his daughter and the criminal Melquash, so utterly gripping. He was once a true blue NYPD cop, circumstances propel him to evolve his sense of identity and his perception of what is going to be his new place in the world. Always a pleasure to read Mosley, and for me, it always will be. Many thanks to Orion for an ARC.

  • Michael Slavin

    Yes 5 stars, because this book made me think. I am an author; so I compare everyone to my own writing, forgive me.

    First of all, I only read this book, by Walter Mosley, because the black main character of Grisham’s novel The Racketeer was reading a Walter Mosey book. By the way, The Racketeer was a very good book (see my review).

    Mosley, a black author, is very prolific with about 51 books published and one play. I hope none of my review sounds racist, forgive me again if it does, it was just ve

    Yes 5 stars, because this book made me think. I am an author; so I compare everyone to my own writing, forgive me.

    First of all, I only read this book, by Walter Mosley, because the black main character of Grisham’s novel The Racketeer was reading a Walter Mosey book. By the way, The Racketeer was a very good book (see my review).

    Mosley, a black author, is very prolific with about 51 books published and one play. I hope none of my review sounds racist, forgive me again if it does, it was just very interesting to me and I do not mean it to be racist at all.

    The main character, Joe King Oliver, was a black NY cop, disgraced, imprisoned, and released with no criminal record. After getting his head together and being forced off the police force, he became a PI. His own case of being set up intersects with another case and is a good story. But the story is not what interested me the most. It is Oliver’s world and how Mosley describes it all.

    Almost every person Mosley introduces he describes their skin color. What a detail? I never really do that in my own writing, but I will pay more attention to it. But I don’t think a white author could get away with all the detailed descriptions of the people of color like he describes. It seems there are a lot of black people in his world, which should not be unusual, but just a different perspective from my own. Also at times, it is a little hard for me with his character’s speech. It is very subtle, a dropped word here and there. He also makes comments of how he feels others (white people) may perceive him and react to him.

    When the hero, Joe Oliver, meets anyone new you not only get their skin color but he also gives you a pretty good detailed description of what they are wearing. I just have not noticed this detail done as much as he does. I must say as soon as I became aware of the skin color and clothing descriptions, I became very interested to see what the next character’s skin color would be and what he or she’d be wearing.

    There are three powerful scenes in the book, at least one, maybe two, I will remember forever.

    I strongly recommend this book or maybe one of his other books. It is a different style and you will be pulled into a different world than you may have been used too. This is a very memorable book and author.

  • Patrice Hoffman

    Since this is not my first roll in the hay with Mr. Walter Mosley's writing I expected exactly what I got. What I got was a gritty, police procedural of an ex-detective, Joe King Oliver, making his way in life as a Private Investigator on the mean streets of Brooklyn. Let's refer to him as King from now on.

    King narrates as he investigates two cases that may or may not be connected, yet are still extremely personal. His investigation into the frame-up that essentially took the life he had as a co

    Since this is not my first roll in the hay with Mr. Walter Mosley's writing I expected exactly what I got. What I got was a gritty, police procedural of an ex-detective, Joe King Oliver, making his way in life as a Private Investigator on the mean streets of Brooklyn. Let's refer to him as King from now on.

    King narrates as he investigates two cases that may or may not be connected, yet are still extremely personal. His investigation into the frame-up that essentially took the life he had as a cop is deeply personal. Someone orchestrated bringing him down and it appears that plan is still in play. What he wants to know is the why and who.

    Simultaneously, but seemingly peripherally, King agrees to work on helping to free Man, who's currently on death row. What entices him about the case is that word on the streets is that there may have been corrupt police officers who set this guy up as well. The nightmares or solitary confinement still haunt King, along with the disappearance of a key witness for Man urge King to poke around despite the caution not to.

    What Mosley does best here is introduce us to a complex character in so little pages. Because this novel is less that 300 pages, Mosley doesn't spend time with any unnecessary words, yet, there's so much detail and intrigue that totally captivates the reader. Yes,

    moves at an alarming pace, still it does not leave the reader feeling deprived.

    Mosley allows King the space to change and develop as a character. We see King dive deeper and deeper into a world he really doesn't want any parts of. He's tried to maintain being an honorable and respectable police officer, even without the badge, up until these cases beg him to choose a side.

    Ultimately,

    is my favorite read yet of 2017. It's only my second read, but I know what I like. I've only read a few Walter Mosley novels but I'm a fan. There's grit. There's grime. There will even be pages you want to turn away from. No this novel is not for the faint of heart. No I won't be sending Walter Mosley up the river. He's too worth reading to do that.

  • Reading.Between.Wines

    ⭐⭐⭐💫 / 5 rounded up.

    First of all, thank you to Little, Brown and Company for sending me a review copy of this book! All opinions are my own.

    I had a REALLY hard time rating

    by

    . I knew I was going to give it a 3.5, but figuring out whether to round up or down was incredibly hard for some reason.

    I think this book could easily be read in a couple of days by most people, if not 1. It was very quick to read, and I thought it was pretty fast-paced as well. Th

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 / 5 rounded up.

    First of all, thank you to Little, Brown and Company for sending me a review copy of this book! All opinions are my own.

    I had a REALLY hard time rating

    by

    . I knew I was going to give it a 3.5, but figuring out whether to round up or down was incredibly hard for some reason.

    I think this book could easily be read in a couple of days by most people, if not 1. It was very quick to read, and I thought it was pretty fast-paced as well. There was definitely a lot going on in this book.

    is about a cop named Joe King Oliver (or King as he is usually called) who ends up getting set up by someone (else) in the NYPD for rape. He goes to Rikers and ends up getting out many weeks later, but not before a lot of damage has been done to both his spirit and life as he knows it. Years later King is a detective who ends up getting an interesting case which in turn ends up being linked to the same people who set him up so long ago. The stories are told alongside of each other with King investigating both his new case and the set up that got him kicked off the force. He also gets help from some pretty sketchy characters.

    There are a lot of players in this novel, and not all of them stick around for very long. Even though the story is only told from King's viewpoint, all of the different characters (many with nicknames) got to be very confusing which took away from the reading experience for me. I also had a hard time understanding some of the dialect in the book, and had to really focus a few times on what was being said.

    I really loved the character Mel in this book. Mel is one of the people that ends up helping King in his cases even though he is a vicious criminal. He was such an interesting character, and pretty badass even though I wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley! I couldn't really connect to King, but he did begin to grow on me. He was pretty crass, especially when it came to women. But he did love his daughter a lot and was so sweet with her in all the scenes they are together.

    Final Thought: While I definitely don't think this book is going to be for everyone, I thought it was a very interesting detective fiction / police procedural. It got to be a little confusing with all the character names, but I think it was definitely worth the read for me. I would also be interested in reading something else from Mosley in the future. This was my first time reading one of his books.

    in 3 words: Gritty, Engaging, Dark

    *This title was published on 20 Feb 2018*

  • Celia

    I belong to 52 Weeks Around the Year Group which provides a prompt a week to be matched to a book which should then be read. ;-)

    Week 19: A book nominated for the Edgar Award or by a Grand Master author

    OK, let's look into this:

    The Edgar Allan Poe Awards (popularly called the Edgars), named after Edgar Allan Poe, are presented every year by the Mystery Writers of America, based in New York City. They honor the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, television, film, and theater published or produc

    I belong to 52 Weeks Around the Year Group which provides a prompt a week to be matched to a book which should then be read. ;-)

    Week 19: A book nominated for the Edgar Award or by a Grand Master author

    OK, let's look into this:

    The Edgar Allan Poe Awards (popularly called the Edgars), named after Edgar Allan Poe, are presented every year by the Mystery Writers of America, based in New York City. They honor the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, television, film, and theater published or produced in the previous year.

    The Grand Master Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Mystery Writers of America. It recognizes lifetime achievement and consistent quality.

    At the beginning of April, Walter Mosley, Grand Master Author, was interviewed on CSpan Book TV's new monthly program featuring a fiction writer. OK, I think I would like to read one of his.

    So.... I opted for Mosley's latest book, Down the River Unto the Sea. I was in for a treat.

    From the Book Browse Review:

    The protagonist, 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. He's 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. But he was set up. Thrown in jail, he suffered horrible cruelties.

    Ten years later, still suffering from his incarceration, he is now a PI. A new client 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, this new one and his own.

    *******

    I was really entranced with Joe's thought processes. I have highlighted a few phrases that caught

    my attention and am sharing them with you, the reader of this review.

    Walter Mosley has a unique style all of his own. This book is stand alone but he has also written at least 3 series and 30 works in all.

    4 stars

  • James Adams

    Walter Mosley has long been one of my favorite authors, especially in regards to his mystery novels. The first several Easy Rawlins novels, as well as the Socrates Fortlow and the Fearless Jones series', are among my most beloved books. Unfortunately, his more recent works, while solid, haven't lived up to this legacy.

    That is as true here as it is with the Leonid MacGill series. While there are several interesting support characters and a nice father-daughter dynamic, the main character just did

    Walter Mosley has long been one of my favorite authors, especially in regards to his mystery novels. The first several Easy Rawlins novels, as well as the Socrates Fortlow and the Fearless Jones series', are among my most beloved books. Unfortunately, his more recent works, while solid, haven't lived up to this legacy.

    That is as true here as it is with the Leonid MacGill series. While there are several interesting support characters and a nice father-daughter dynamic, the main character just didn't connect with me. It didn't help that his voice was indistinguishable from Leonid's. This despite an intriguing, and tragic, backstory.

    The same holds true for the story itself. There are two main plots, thematically linked rather than literally. Both are topical, as well as politically charged, yet neither had any sense of urgency.

    Still, this is a Mosley novel, so it's well- written and has crackling dialogue. He's always worth a read, and this is no different. Still, one hopes for a return to his earlier form.

    I thank Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for an e-arc of this book. All opinions are my own and are honest.

  • Kirsty 📚📖❤️

    This is an interesting but ultimately disturbing noir from the Easy Rawlins author. It's quite a complex story and I'm still not sure I've understood the ending. There are two strands of story; one where King is trying to find out enough information to get a an off death row and the other strand is an investigation into the frame job that happened to himself. There's a whole cast of characters to help him on these journeys.

    One of my problems is I just didn't like most of them. I'm not entirely s

    This is an interesting but ultimately disturbing noir from the Easy Rawlins author. It's quite a complex story and I'm still not sure I've understood the ending. There are two strands of story; one where King is trying to find out enough information to get a an off death row and the other strand is an investigation into the frame job that happened to himself. There's a whole cast of characters to help him on these journeys.

    One of my problems is I just didn't like most of them. I'm not entirely sure if I was meant to. King himself is a flawed individual struggling with the PTSD from his incarceration. He regularly has to decide whether to cross the line to murder in his quest for answers. I found the violence a bit too much for me. I've read a couple of Rawlin's books but it was a while ago so can't remember if there was as much in them.

    The book flows well, there is a lot of action. Mosley is an excellent writer but at the end of the day I think this just wasn't a book for me. 

    Free arc from netgalley

  • Andrew Smith

    If you want to understand Joe Oliver, Mosely’s front man in his latest offering, then look no further than his tastes in books and music. He took to reading when he was locked up on Rikers Island, having been framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Throughout this tale he’s ever reaching for a book and most often it’s Remarque’s 1929 tome All Quiet on the Western Front – a story of the extreme mental stress imposed on German soldiers during WWI and how they often found themselves detached from civi

    If you want to understand Joe Oliver, Mosely’s front man in his latest offering, then look no further than his tastes in books and music. He took to reading when he was locked up on Rikers Island, having been framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Throughout this tale he’s ever reaching for a book and most often it’s Remarque’s 1929 tome All Quiet on the Western Front – a story of the extreme mental stress imposed on German soldiers during WWI and how they often found themselves detached from civilian life after returning home. For easy listening he returns time and again to the taciturn jazz musician Thelonious Monk. Christened ‘the elephant on the keyboard’ by Philip Larkin, Monk was known as a man who did his own thing, and this included often hitting discordant notes – for which he refused to apologise. Yes, Oliver certainly is his own man, he seems pretty well detached from civilian life and he has a habit of hitting a few discordant notes of his own.

    The prose here is terrific. I really liked Oliver and had sympathy for his plight. The character development is brilliantly done and his interactions with people are sharp and funny. In fact, the whole mood of the book is like listening to an old favourite song – it just flowed over me (literally, as I was listening to an audio version). But therein lies the problem too. The plot just didn’t capture me. It befuddled me and frustrated me.

    There are two strands:

    1. Joe wants to find out who set him up and settle the matter.

    2. In his new occupation as a PI, he’s approached to look into the case of a radical journalist accused of killing two on-duty police officers who had been involved in trafficking drugs and women.

    There’s a cast of thousands here (well, it felt like that anyway) and the book constantly jigs back and forth between the two strands. I’m not great at dealing with complex plots – my preference is the linear approach adopted by Michael Connelly and John Sandford – and I was lost in the mire very quickly. What kept me going here was the constant, soothing rhythm of Mosley’s writing. I loved the style, even if I was confused by the substance.

  • Tim

    Dear Mr. Mosley. Why all the misery? Isn't there anything good in life besides the daughter? I suppose the money is alright, except for all the pain and suffering it took. 3 of 10 stars

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