Down the River Unto the Sea is an important, compelling read. Walter Mosley is angry and passionate in his rendering of the gritty story of Joe King Oliver’s bid to clear his name and save a man on death row.
Down the River starts slow. The story lines do not immediately engage. And perhaps because I so love Easy Rawlins, it was not easy for me to love Joe King Oliver at first. However, after the first fifty some pages, this uber noir tale pulls the reader in utterly. The issues become clear: Bleak prison life and down-and-dirty survival. The hidden corridors of power and corruption. The need for redemption and redress.
The diabolical Melquarth is mesmerizing and, well, fabulous, in contrast to the characterization of the daughter Aja-Denise, who is a bit flat. Other bit characters are also underwhelmingly rendered.
But we root for Joe and Mel at the end, just as we bleed in the face of the System's inequities.
This novel has feet of clay, but is important, powerful, haunting.
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