Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Down the River Unto the Sea” as Want to Read:
Down the River Unto the Sea
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Down the River Unto the Sea

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  3,592 ratings  ·  604 reviews
From trailblazing novelist Walter Mosley: a former NYPD cop once imprisoned for a crime he did not commit must solve two cases: that of a man wrongly condemned to die, and his own.

Joe King Oliver was one of the NYPD's finest investigators, until, dispatched to arrest a well-heeled car thief, he is framed for assault by his enemies within the NYPD, a charge which lands
...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 20th 2018 by Mulholland Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Down the River Unto the Sea, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Judith Water signifies rebirth and cleansing, and the river always finds it way to the opening arms of the sea. It goes home and becomes a part of something …moreWater signifies rebirth and cleansing, and the river always finds it way to the opening arms of the sea. It goes home and becomes a part of something larger than itself. (less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
John Saalwaechter
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,592 ratings  ·  604 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Down the River Unto the Sea
Paromjit
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am always going to read the latest Walter Mosley book as I have read every single thing he has written. His books have a special place in my heart and even though there is much that feels familiar in this one, I still loved it. It might not quite be there with the Easy Rawlins series, but Mosley still has me with his ability to create a large cast of memorable characters, even when they only have minor roles and his exceptional skills in writing and dialogue. Our central character here is Joe ...more
Andrew Smith
If you want to understand Joe Oliver, Mosely’s front man in his latest offering, then look no further than his tastes in books and music. He took to reading when he was locked up on Rikers Island, having been framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Throughout this tale he’s ever reaching for a book and most often it’s Remarque’s 1929 tome All Quiet on the Western Front – a story of the extreme mental stress imposed on German soldiers during WWI and how they often found themselves detached from civi ...more
Michael Slavin
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-thriller
Yes, 5 stars! This book made me think. I am an author; so I compare everyone to my own writing, forgive me.

First of all, I only read this book, by Walter Mosley, because the black main character of Grisham’s novel The Racketeer was reading a Walter Mosey book. By the way, The Racketeer was a very good book (see my review).

Mosley, a black author, is very prolific with about 51 books published and one play. I hope none of my review sounds racist, forgive me again if it does, it was just very inte
...more
Tim
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Dear Mr. Mosley. Why all the misery? Isn't there anything good in life besides the daughter? I suppose the money is alright, except for all the pain and suffering it took. 3 of 10 stars
ABookwormWithWine
⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 / 5 rounded up.

First of all, thank you to Little, Brown and Company for sending me a review copy of this book! All opinions are my own.

I had a REALLY hard time rating Down the River Unto the Sea by Walter Mosley. I knew I was going to give it a 3.5, but figuring out whether to round up or down was incredibly hard for some reason.

I think this book could easily be read in a couple of days by most people, if not 1. It was very quick to read, and I thought it was pretty fast-paced as well.
...more
Patrice Hoffman
Since this is not my first roll in the hay with Mr. Walter Mosley's writing I expected exactly what I got. What I got was a gritty, police procedural of an ex-detective, Joe King Oliver, making his way in life as a Private Investigator on the mean streets of Brooklyn. Let's refer to him as King from now on.

King narrates as he investigates two cases that may or may not be connected, yet are still extremely personal. His investigation into the frame-up that essentially took the life he had as a co
...more
HBalikov
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
I have read a fair number of Mosley’s books; you may have, too, starting with the Easy Rawlings novels set in Los Angeles.

Beginning in the 1950s. Mosley has gradually shifted his focus from L.A. to New York City with his characters, Leonid McGill, John Woman and, now, Joe Oliver.

Oliver has some similarities to other Mosley African-American protagonists. He is a detective, but in this case an ex-police detective, who had to leave the force under a cloud. He is well-read. And, he has a roving eye
...more
Kirsty ❤️
Mar 10, 2018 rated it liked it
This is an interesting but ultimately disturbing noir from the Easy Rawlins author. It's quite a complex story and I'm still not sure I've understood the ending. There are two strands of story; one where King is trying to find out enough information to get a an off death row and the other strand is an investigation into the frame job that happened to himself. There's a whole cast of characters to help him on these journeys.

One of my problems is I just didn't like most of them. I'm not entirely s
...more
Brandon
Accused of rape a decade ago that led to several months in prison and his subsequent dismissal from the NYPD, former cop turned P.I Joe King Oliver receives a letter in the mail from his accuser stating she was paid to set up the frame by another detective. Joe decides to follow up and meet with her in an effort to finally clear his name. At the same time, he accepts a case involving the murder of two on-duty cops by a radical black journalist. Prior to their deaths, the cops had been throwing t ...more
Karl Jorgenson
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Mosley has magic on many levels. His characters are complex, worldly, and always erudite and cultured. In the Easy Rawlins books he creates an unseen (by white society) Black world of successful criminals connected like the best fictional Mafia families. 'Down the River' has some of that, but also an even more imaginative world where skin tone is not a dividing line, where white criminals partner with Black and Black bosses hire thugs of every shade. Mosley's plots are complex right to the edge ...more
Aditya
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Peoples have been suggesting me Mosley for a long time. Easy Rawlins series is the preferred jump in point but I went with his latest standalone because it was fresh off winning the top Edgar prize. And the general consensus was right. Mosley has got everything I like in crime fiction - great prose, complex plots, gritty setting and most importantly engaging characters.

Joe Oliver was a good cop with one problem - his inability to keep it in his pants. He got framed for a rape and by the time the
...more
Celia
I belong to 52 Weeks Around the Year Group which provides a prompt a week to be matched to a book which should then be read. ;-)

Week 19: A book nominated for the Edgar Award or by a Grand Master author

OK, let's look into this:
The Edgar Allan Poe Awards (popularly called the Edgars), named after Edgar Allan Poe, are presented every year by the Mystery Writers of America, based in New York City. They honor the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, television, film, and theater published or produc
...more
Raven
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Although he ranks alongside James Lee Burke and James Ellroy in Raven’s trinity of favourite contemporary American crime authors, it is highly unusual for me to post a review of his work, as he is always read in a vacuum of serenity outside of critical reading, and imminent reviewing- my hygge zone if you will. So I’ll keep this review of Down To The River Unto The Sea as brief, and as objective as I can, but frankly Mr Mosley probably writes more interesting post-its than a substantial of self ...more
Mark Stevens
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Cue the mournful saxophone. Sink down into Walter Mosley’s boiled-clean prose. And get to know a new protagonist in Mosley’s ever-growing stable, former New York cop turned private detective Joe King Oliver.

Yes, the cop-turned-P.I. bit is an old one in crime fiction, but King’s career switch wasn’t a matter of turning in the badge one day and hanging out a shingle the next.
King spent time at Rikers—rough time. He emerges a changed man. Why was Joe King Oliver in prison? Because he was framed.

An
...more
ColumbusReads
Jan 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Walter Mosley is one of the very few writers writing in any genre that I would read without knowing anything about the book. He’s normally pretty consistent in his writing and though he typically writes similar-type mystery potboilers he uses different P.I.’s in a number of different series and they’re all well written.

This one just didn’t work for me.

The private investigator in this procedural is Joe King Oliver and he’s investigating duo cases simultaneously: one where he was personally framed
...more
Jay
Jan 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Walter Mosley has long been one of my favorite authors, especially in regards to his mystery novels. The first several Easy Rawlins novels, as well as the Socrates Fortlow and the Fearless Jones series', are among my most beloved books. Unfortunately, his more recent works, while solid, haven't lived up to this legacy.
That is as true here as it is with the Leonid MacGill series. While there are several interesting support characters and a nice father-daughter dynamic, the main character just did
...more
Lou
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
First person narrative of a man not in blue no more and then orange and then as a pi from Queens in a one man service, King Detective Service.
There are simple truths and there are more complex truths and there is freemen in sense of no longer in prison and following his days to exonerate himself and another in a case brought to his attention.
The author successfully engages the reader and walking in this protagonists shoes at odds with conflicts and the dealings with the discoveries and how and w
...more
J.R.
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: suspense
We are defined by our weaknesses.
For Joe King Oliver the weakness has always been his sexual drive. It compelled him to disregard "...duties and promises, vows and common sense" and ended his career as an NYPD investigator.
Disgraced and haunted by losses, his beloved job and his wife, he scrapes by as a private detective. The few joys left in his life are Aja-Denise, the teenage daughter who assists in his office, and Sergeant Gladstone Palmer, the one friend from the force who's stood by him si
...more
DP Lyle
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Joe Oliver had once been a respected NYPD homicide detective. He had also been a convicted felon. Framed by his enemies, beaten and broken in prison, he is suddenly and unexpectedly released. None of it makes sense but Joe accepts his fate and moves on, becoming a private investigator. But, a note comes his way, from a woman who says she had been paid to help frame him. What follows is vintage Walter Mosley. A twisted and dark story that runs through the underbelly of NY and is populated with ch ...more
Cynthia
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Though this isn’t the best of Mosley’s books is still darn enjoyable. His writing style is more reminiscent of Chandler in Down the River unto the Sea and though the characters lead live distant from most of us common mortals they’re relatable with an emphasis on the gray area between right and wrong. As a new character The former New York cop turned PI aka survivor Joe Oliver leads a lonely life in the shadows. He’s still recovering and trying to make sense of who set him up to take a fall land ...more
Andre
Apr 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Walter Mosley is simply a master of his craft. He consistently manages book after book to bring a reader right into the story and doesn’t let go until the last page. The lush depictions of person and place, the sly social commentary, speaking volumes, while saying very little, “America was changing at a snail’s pace in a high wind, but until that gastropod mollusk reached its destination I had a .45 in my pocket and eyes on all four corners at once.”And this one is no exception containing all of ...more
Mahoghani 23
Police corruption, murder, drugs, sex, violence....in the life of former police detective Joe Oliver. They took his badge away but not his knowledge and when he unravels the truth, heads need to be aware that they will be like Humpty Dumpty.....they will fall!

Walter Mosley will always be one of my favorite authors. His leading characters may not have much in life; the system seems to keep them at a standstill, someone's out to kill them or they put themselves in harm's way but they are the most
...more
Kevintipple
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Joe King Oliver has been out of prison for 10 years as Down The River Unto The Sea by Walter Mosley begins. A disgraced NYPD detective, these days he runs a small private investigative agency consisting of himself and his wise beyond her years teenage daughter. He does so from small office on the second floor of a building on Montague Street. Progress, as some would define it, is coming to the neighborhood which means rents are going up and the old places are being replaced increasingly by fancy ...more
Asheley
Mar 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was an awesome introduction (for me) into the work of Walter Mosley. These days, I live for complicated cop or detective stories and Joe King Oliver fits solidly into that category. King is a former NYPD cop that was unfairly framed by someone else on the force. He was sent to Rikers where he was initially placed in the general population with many of the criminals he helped put away. After sustaining some life-threatening injuries at the hands of other inmates, which left him scarred both ...more
Oliver Clarke
This is gripping, hardboiled detective fiction with some enjoyably sparse prose and a lot going on. It has some entertaining characters, but I couldn’t help feeling the multiple investigations made it overly complicated. A few times I lost track of which case the detective was investigating, which is never a good sign. On the plus side, there’s interesting commentary on racial politics in the US. Unfortunately the handling of gender politics wasn’t as strong, with the female characters being the ...more
Sunil Laxman
Feb 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
*** 3.5 Stars***

I think I'll keep this one short. The Plot follows Joe Oliver, an ex-cop who got framed for assault, leading to him spending a stint in jail for a crime he didn't commit and having to live with it for the rest of his life. Now, he's a private detective, struggling with his demons while helping others who get caught up in similar situations. It's all mundane until one day, he gets a letter from a woman who admits she was paid to frame him. This comes in conjuncture wit
...more
Chris
Aug 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: urban-book-club
Urban Book Club - August 2018

This is the worst book I've ever read. I'm a straight white man who loves James Bond and the misogyny in this novel is out of control. The main character is a narcissist who accepts no responsibility for his own choices and none of this anti-hero behavior is examined in any light other than "a man wronged seeks to get even!" The prose is garbage-tier. I would have abandoned this 50 pages in had it not been this month's book club selection.
Lisa
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Listened on audio and the narrator was a perfect choice for the voice of Joe 'King' Oliver. A crime noir, as hardboiled as they come. A little difficult to follow in places, but it certainly has all the atmosphere and character of a silver screen crime classic.
Adrain
Dec 05, 2017 added it
This is one of the best books I have ever read. I read an Advanced Reading Copy as it will be release in February. Some of Mr. Mosley's best work.
Lynn Horton
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This gritty story (translate: a little graphic) hooked me from the beginning. I'll read more of Mosley's works based on Down the River Unto the Sea. The characters are solid, with one exception that I'll mention later. The relationship between the protagonist and his daughter is EXCELLENT and relatable. The variety of quite a few characters—no mean feat to master so many and keep straight for the reader—is well chosen, and each depicted so clearly, that I never mixed them up. The writing is lean ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Go On Girl! Book...: * About the Book 4 8 Aug 04, 2019 05:55AM  
Go On Girl! Book...: About Walter Mosley 3 6 Mar 03, 2019 10:31AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Bearskin
  • Bluebird, Bluebird (Highway 59, #1)
  • Heaven, My Home (Highway 59 #2)
  • Desperté
  • Fair Warning (Jack McEvoy #3)
  • Hi Five (IQ, #4)
  • Only to Sleep
  • The Night Fire (Harry Bosch, #22; Renée Ballard, #3; Harry Bosch Universe, #32)
  • Righteous (IQ, #2)
  • The Man Who Came Uptown
  • The New Iberia Blues (Dave Robicheaux #22)
  • The Cat in the Coffin
  • Broken
  • El truco final (Allan Franco, #1)
  • Wrecked (IQ #3)
  • Blacktop Wasteland
  • El Origen: ZU
  • House Witness (Joe DeMarco, #12)
See similar books…
2,468 followers
Walter Mosley (b. 1952) is the author of the bestselling mystery series featuring Easy Rawlins, as well as numerous other works, from literary fiction and science fiction to a young adult novel and political monographs. His short fiction has been widely published, and his nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine and the Nation, among other publications. Mosley is the winner of numero ...more

Related Articles

Summer is a great time to lose yourself in a page-turning mystery. To help you sleuth out a new read, we asked five of the season’s hottest...
68 likes · 29 comments
“The law is a flexible thing—on both sides of the line—influenced by circumstance, character, and, of course, wealth or lack of same.” 1 likes
“A man can live his whole life following the rules set down by happenstance and the cash-coated bait of security-cosseted morality; an entire lifetime and in the end he wouldn’t have done one thing to be proud of.” 1 likes
More quotes…