"Down the River Unto the Sea" By Walter Mosley: Review/Giveaway

by Gloria Feit

Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review & links to purchase it.

From the publisher: Joe King Oliver was one of the NYPD’s finest investigators until, dispatched to arrest a well-heeled car thief, he was framed for assault by his enemies within the force, a charge that landed him at Rikers. A decade later, King is a private detective, running his agency with the help of his teenage daughter. Broken by the brutality he suffered and committed in equal measure behind bars, King leads a solitary life, his work and his daughter the only lights.

When King receives a letter from a woman who admits she was paid to frame him years ago, he decides to take his own case: finding out who on the force wanted him disposed of—and why. As King embarks on his quest for the justice he was denied, he agrees to help a radical black journalist accused of killing two on-duty officers who had been abusing their badges to traffic in drugs and prostitutes in the city’s poorest neighborhoods. The two cases intertwine across the years, exposing a pattern of corruption and brutality wielded against the black men, women, and children whose lives the law destroyed. To solve them, King must outrun dirty cops, outsmart craven lawyers, and above all protect his daughter from the underworld in which he works. All the while, two lives hang in the balance: King’s client’s and his own.

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Our protagonist’s memories of his early/earlier years are mostly painful: “The apartment building where I lived with my mother, brother, and sister after our father was sentenced and before I was old enough to run away.” More recently, the memories are of his days incarcerated in Rikers: “I’d been at Rikers for only thirty-nine hours and already four convicts had attacked me. There was a white adhesive bandage holding together the open flesh on my right cheek.” He thinks: “Just a few days and I’d switched allegiances from cop to criminal. I thought that was the worst thing…but I was wrong…It’s a terrible fall when you find yourself grateful to be put in segregation.” When he is, unexpectedly, released after about three months, he is allowed to shower and shave and “I saw my face for the first time in months in the polished steel mirror next to the small shower where I cleaned up. Shaving revealed the vicious gaping scar down the right of my face. They didn’t always offer stitches at Rikers.”

Image source: Mulholland Books

That experience colors everything that follows in this fascinating and, at times, horrifying novel from Walter Mosley, whose writing is always riveting. At this point in his life, the brightest and most beloved thing in Joe’s life is his seventeen-year-old daughter, Aja-Denise, who is equally devoted to him. Her mother, now Joe’s ex-wife, has remarried, but Joe is closer to Aja than ever; she helps him run his detective agency, where he is determined to find out who framed him. His daughter’s latest endeavor is to attend “a special school in this Bronx church where good science students teach at-risk kids how scientists do experiments.” Obviously, Joe couldn’t be more proud of her.

The author’s descriptions of his supporting players are always wonderful and fully descriptive, including Joe’s elderly grandmother and her boyfriend of the day, a man worth eight hundred, seventy-nine billion dollars, described as a gun enthusiast and a pacifist too. His investigation brings him to a meeting with a man who “weighed well north of four hundred pounds. He could have willed his face to be sewn into a basketball after he died; it was that large and round,” and describes himself as “a man who didn’t even trust his own clients, a man who had experienced betrayal on almost every level.” Then his “visage was still too cop-like,” he undertakes some small superficial changes till “the transformation was now complete. Rather than a Cro-Magnon cop I was a Neanderthal nerd.”

I will leave it to the reader to discover all the other joys of Mr. Mosley’s writing for him/herself. The book is everything one has learned to expect from this author, and it is highly recommended.

To enter to win a copy of Down the River Unto the Sea, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “river,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 31, 2018. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please included your mailing address.

You can use these links to purchase the book. If you have adblocker on you may not be able to see the Amazon link:

Ted & Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, New York, a few miles outside of New York City. For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney & former stock analyst, publicist & writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications. Having always been avid mystery readers & since they're now retired, they're able to indulge their passion. Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK & US.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. This sounds really good--I'd love to read it. legallyblonde1961@yahoo.com

  2. Fabulous review of a fabulous book.

  3. This sounds really good--I'd love to read it! legallyblonde1961@yahoo.com

  4. Really enjoyed the description of the book. Sounds like a great read.


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