Leonid Trotter McGill is a 55-year-old African-American man, an
amateur boxer trying to turn his life around working as a private
detective after having committed many dishonest acts in the past for
which is trying to atone. His marriage is troubled, with both he and
his wife having been unfaithful, and his girlfriend has ended their
relationship because she envisions him coming to a violent end and
doesn’t want to have to endure that. Prominent in the novel are
memories of his radical father, who apparently “was killed in some
South American revolution,” not longer after which his mother “died of
a broken heart” when he was twelve. His father’s Communist sympathies
are evident in the fact that he called himself Tolstoy, and named his
sons Leonid and Nikita; McGill in turn named his sons Twilliam and
The friends the author created for this troubled man in “Known to
Evil,” the first book in the series, are back, and “LT,” as he is
known to one and all, relies on them heavily: “Bug,” a computer
genius; “Hush,” an assassin who can be counted on in difficult
situations; and most importantly Gordo, his trainer in the ring and
his surrogate father, now fighting cancer and ensconced in LT’s home.
The writing is pure pleasure. Each character is meticulously
described in a very distinctive and inimitable style. As well, the
author [and his creation] have a philosophical bent, e.g., “The
greatest natural disaster in the history of the world has been the
human brain. Get rid of us and Eden will return unaided,” and “Life
is nothing without its challenges and only the dead are truly
There are two major story lines. The first begins when a woman comes
into LT’s office stating that the first two wives of her billionaire
husband came to untimely ends, and she fears her life is in danger.
[This becomes more complicated when McGill becomes convinced that most
of what the woman has told him is a lie.] But she pays him with a
large amount of much-needed cash, and he agrees to take on the case.
The next investigation is at the behest of a man who was a close aide
of his father, known as the Diplomat of Crime, who asks LT to find a
former associate, giving him almost no information other than the
man’s name, telling him that he doesn’t expect to pay him for this
job, but that he will be in his debt if he is successful.
This is not a book to be read quickly; one must take enough time to
appreciate the journey en route to what at first seemed to be an
abrupt ending, which I hasten to add an instant later felt absolutely
right. Highly recommended.
260 Franklin Blvd.
Long Beach, NY 11561