In this cycle of 14 bittersweet stories, Walter Mosley breaks out of the genre--if not the setting--of his bestselling Easy Rawlins detective novels. Only eight years after serving out a prison sentence for murder, Socrates Fortlow lives in a tiny, two-room Watts apartment, where he cooks on a hot plate, scavenges for bottles, drinks, and wrestles with his demons. Struggling to control a seemingly boundless rage--as well as the power of his massive "rock-breaking" hands--Socrates must find a way to live an honorable life as a black man on the margins of a white world, a task which takes every ounce of self-control he has.
Easy Rawlins fans might initially find themselves disappointed by the absence of a mystery to unravel. But it's a gripping inner drama that unfolds over the pages of these stories, as Socrates comes to grips with the chaos, poverty, and violence around him. He tries to get and keep a job delivering groceries; takes in a young street kid named Darryl, who has his own murder to hide; and helps drive out the neighborhood crack dealer. Throughout, Mosley captures the rhythms of Watts life in prose both musical and hard-edged, resulting in a haunting look at a life bounded by lust, violence, fear, and a ruthlessly unsentimental moral vision.
From the best-selling author of A Little Yellow Dog--the eagerly awaited debut of Socrates Fortlow, a bold and original new hero. Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned introduces Walter Mosley's most compelling new character since the debut of his immortal detective Easy Rawlins: one Socrates Fortlow, a tough, brooding ex-convict determined to challenge and understand the violence and anarchy in his world--and in himself. Three decades ago, the young Socrates had, in a burst of drunken rage, murdered a man and a woman with his huge "rock-breaking hands." Twenty-seven years of hard time in an Indiana prison followed. Now Socrates lives in a cramped, two-room apartment in an abandoned building in Watts, scavenging bottles and delivering groceries for a supermarket. In each of the stories that comprise this richly brooding novel, Socrates Fortlow, like his namesake, explores philosophical questions of morality in a world beset with crime, poverty, and racism. He is an unforgettable presence and his perceptions cast a glow of somber lyricism upon an often harsh world. Socrates is a creation of stunning originality; the book he inhabits is Walter Mosley's most powerful and eloquent to date.