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by Walter Mosley
Little, Brown and Co, January 2004
249 pages
ISBN: 0316570826

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Charles Blakey, a black man, doesn't have much going for him. He's 33 years old, lives alone, has no job, drinks far too much, lies to everyone, and does little else but blame his failures on his long-dead uncle.

One day a blue-eyed white man, Anniston Bennet, knocks on Charles's door and offers him a way out of his problems. Bennet wants to rent the spacious basement of Charles's house for two months during the summer. At first the offer is turned down.

Charles's home has been in his family for many generations and the basement is a mess, filled with hundreds of years of junk. Suddenly, he feels compelled to clean it out. When a friend suggests that the junk he uncovers might be worth some money, Charlie decides to try to sell some of it.

Meanwhile the mortgage is two weeks late and there's no money to pay it. Charlie tries to borrow the money from an aunt but she firmly turns him down. He has two options: either lose the family home or call Anniston Bennet and take him up on his offer. After some more pressure from Bennet, Charlie agrees to the rental. Bennet moves into the basement on June 1 and Charlie's life, ideas, and outlook suddenly change.

THE MAN IN MY BASEMENT is author Walter Mosley's newest book. Unlike most of his other books there is no murder or mystery involved, except for the vagueness of exactly why Bennet, a man with many secrets, rents the basement.

The book also shows the genius of Walter Mosley. In their time together Charlie and Bennet share views on life, crimes against humanity, and other philosophical questions, but this is far from a book merely about philosophy. It's about how two absolutely different men realize what they have done with their lives and how they eventually need to repent and change.

As always, Mosley gives us meticulously well thought-out characters. No matter how evil or mean, no matter what the individual looks like, Mosley show them all a great deal of respect and compassion. Each person has redeeming traits, and Mosley makes sure his readers know about them.

I've read many books by Walter Mosley and THE MAN IN MY BASEMENT proves that Mosley's impressive writing talents have moved upwards to an even higher level. This is a great literary novel and though there is little or no action to keep the story moving, move it does because it keeps your mind traveling along at a breathtaking pace. You will find yourself racing through the pages to discover what will happen next.

I thoroughly recommend THE MAN IN MY BASEMENT. If you're a fan of Mosley I know you'll read it, but if you haven't discovered any of his previous novels, I implore you to read this wonderfully, well-written book.

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, December 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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