A disturbing chance encounter jolts a New York computer programmer out of his affectless routine and into the turbulent what-next zone in which Mosley’s heroes from Easy Rawlins to Fearless Jones have always thrived.
“You don’t care about nuthin’. That’s what I like about you,” says Cassius Copeland, security expert at Our Bank, to his virtually friendless friend Ben Dibbuk. Ever since awakening in a Bowery gutter from a Colorado drinking spree more than 20 years ago, Ben’s been living the Day-Timer life, with slots for his wife, magazine editor Mona Valeria; their daughter Seela, an NYU student; and his mistress Svetlana, whom he keeps tucked away in a West Side apartment. He doesn’t care much about any of them, and it doesn’t bother him that he doesn’t. One evening Mona drags him to a banquet to celebrate the launch of Diablerie, her new magazine. The featured speaker is Barbara “Star” Knowland, who’s turned her ordeal as a crazed killer’s hostage into a high-profile memoir. Ben knew her back in Colorado, Star insists; in fact, he’s been dogging her footsteps in New York. Even before she comes out and accuses him (to Mona, to the cops, to the FBI) of killing her menacing ex-lover Sean Messier two decades ago and letting another man take the rap, Ben, who can’t remember any of this, suddenly finds himself in free fall. He plays hooky from work; he spies on Mona and her lover Harvard Rollins, an ex-cop security expert who’s digging into Ben’s past; he reaches out to the mother he hasn’t phoned for seven years; his sex life ventures into the wild side Mosley explored in Killing Johnny Fry (2007). Caroming from one mysterious exchange to the next, Ben can’t imagine aiming as high as understanding his life: “I just wanted to imagine a world outside my mind.”
Provocative, haunting, satisfyingly inconclusive work from a storyteller of formidable gifts and boundless ambition.