Walter Mosley is best known for his detective novels, particularly his Easy Rawlins series. Mosley’s recent novel The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey is not a detective novel but still has many mysteries its main character Ptolemy Grey, a 91 year old man living by himself and suffering from dementia, tries to solve. At the start of the book Ptolemy struggles with the simplest things such as remembering who his relatives are and whether or not his grand nephew stole some of his pension checks. Ptolemy and the supporting characters are so richly developed that Mosley probably would have had enough material for a novel right there, but the book takes a surprising turn when Ptolemy starts taking an experimental drug that helps him with his memory. Suddenly, Ptolemy is able to make sense of what is going on around him for the first time in years. Ptolemy remembers that, despite living in abject poverty, he has a great amount of wealth including a suitcase full of cash and a large number of antique gold coins. His biggest challenge in his last days is trying to figure out what friends and family members he can trust once they learn of his wealth and if his favorite nephew, Reggie, was shot by a random gang member, which is what everyone says happened, or perhaps someone closer to Ptolemy’s family.
Upon finishing The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey my only regret was that I had not become a Walter Mosley fan sooner.