All of which would be fine if those demons were up to Mosley's usual standard. But the subtle character studies that this author can do so well are missing here. Too often, he relies on genealogy — particularly as it relates to complexion — instead of personal detail: "She was dirty blond and probably white, while he had a New World Hispanic tint to his skin," he writes, or "She had a Dominican mother and Moroccan father — lineages, when combined, that gave her dark red-black skin." He's making a point about our multiple ethnicities, and it figures that his character — an African-American outsider — would notice skin tone. But it's repetitive and, along with the thin plot, wearing.
"I'm no Sherlock Holmes," McGill says, deep into the book. "I can't read cigarette ash or pretend to have the most important and up-to-date forensic science stored in my lobes." No Mosley hero has ever had to, but he's never been lazy, either.
WALTER MOSLEY | Brattle Theatre, 40 Brattle St, Cambridge | March 24 at 6 pm | $5 | 617.661.1515 or harvard.com
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