by Walter Mosley
Socrates Fortlow, released from prison after 27 years for murder, tries to live with honor in Watts, without giving in to his murderous rage. This is a collection of stories that originally appeared elsewhere, but interwoven with new material. The immensely strong, guilt-ridden Socrates helps rid the neighborhood of a killer, takes in a young boy, convinces a man to stay with his wife, and insists on his rights when dealing with authority like the grocery store where he applies for a job.
It’s an amazing book, strong and blunt yet subtle. Socrates is an all-too-human character: deeply flawed, but just trying to make his way in a world where the odds are stacked against him and to do the right thing. He’s more than just a repentant man dealing out rough justice; he represents the anger and frustration inner-city blacks face dealing with crime, drugs, gangs, and absent fathers. This is gritty and thought-provoking reading.