'Socrates thought about a promise he'd made. He swore to himself that he'd never hurt another person...That way he could ease the evil deeds that he had perpetrated in the long evil life that he'd lived'. Socrates Fortlow has spent 27 years in prison and can kill a man with his bare hands. But now he's out and determined to use his strength for good, to help the downtrodden and oppressed of the Los Angeles ghetto. Like his Greek namesake, Socrates Fortlow asks questions in an attempt to understand his world. His attempt to find morality in poverty and deprivation makes Socrates a modern-day hero.
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.