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    Review of THE RIGHT MISTAKE by Walter Mosley (see his website)


    Basic Civitas Books, October 2008

    Socrates Fortlow is a tough man. Although he's sixty, he's still strong, with hands that can break bones. He's also been a bad man--serving decades in prison for a brutal double-murder and rape. But Fortlow is a thinker. When he sees a chance to help a man and help himself, he sets up a "school" where he and others can meet to discuss the world, themselves, and see if they can actually resolve issues.

    Things don't start well for Fortlow. One of the guests at his 'thinkers' meeting is a gangster, another the friend of two boys he killed. And the police are convinced he's back to his criminal past--especially when he allows gang leaders to thrash out agreements in his 'school.' Fortlow insists on asking tough questions, probing past the obvious beliefs his multi-ethnic visitors hold. But the police don't give up--even when Fortlow discovers their first spy.

    Author Walter Mosley (see more reviews of novels by Mosley) writes convincingly of the inner-city experience of American blacks. The scene where Fortlow and a friend are arrested for driving while black is sadly believable. Yet Mosley isn't just writing about the black experience, he's asking questions, probing for ways to get beyond that experience and the legchains it represents. Fortlow, with his past, his nightmares of incarceration, his fears of commitment, his anger and his intellect makes for a fascinating character.

    THE RIGHT MISTAKE reads almost like a collection of short stories. It's more theme-driven than plot driven. To me, it felt a bit more light-weight than some of Mosley's other novels. Still, I found it well-written and eye-opening.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 6/01/09

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