Ptolemy Bent--"Popo"--is different. At an age when most babies are cooing "Mama, " Popo was speaking in complete sentences. He was reading college textbooks when he was still too young for nursery school. Popo may just be the smartest human being on Earth. And he spends all his time listening to the radio . . . to white noise that comes drifting down from the sky like stardust. Chill Bent is a two-time loser with a hair-trigger temper. After the death of Popo's mother, the ex-con assumes responsibility for his nephew, vowing to protect the boy from a government eager to strip away his African-American heritage and exploit his genius like a natural resource. Together, Popo and Chill are about to embark on an extraordinary journey into the farthest reaches of the mind and the soul . . . a journey you will never forget.
Though the prose is a bit rough in spots, Mosley's third outing for L.A. bookseller Paris Minton and the intrepid Fearless Jones is as entertaining as its predecessors, Fearless Jones and Fear Itself. Trouble comes to Paris's door in the form of his cousin Ulysses "Useless" S. Grant IV," who needs help after getting mixed up in a scheme that has gotten totally out of hand. Despite refusing to even let Useless cross his threshold, Paris is drawn, violently, into the fray. Mosley isn't afraid to cast his characters in heroic molds and does so explicitly when Paris recalls Bullfinch'sMythology and muses: "Fearless was the hero, I was the hero's companion, Useless was the mischievous trickster." As in any good heroic adventure, Fearless and Paris face a variety of monsters, traps, sirens and other temptations. Mosley's talent for sketching memorable minor characters of every hue ("buttery brown," "copper," "brick," "olive with a hint of lemon") is fully evident, while his reading of the racial temperature of the 1950s is as dead-on as ever. (Sept.)
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Grand Central Publishing
September 18, 2006
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