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Mystery Monday – Moment of Untruth

Moment Of Untruth by Ed Lacy

 

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

 

In the late Fifties and early Sixties, Toussaint Marcus Moore is an African-American detective in two novels written by Ed Lacy. In the first, Room to Swing, Moore finds himself investigating in a southern Ohio town and tracking down a killer. Facing a hostile white community, he has to deal with Jim Crow customs and being suspected in the assault of a police officer. This novel won the Edgar award for Best Mystery Novel in 1958.

The other was Moment of Untruth (1965), which I read recently. Touie’s wife Frances announces with glee that she is pregnant, to which he secretly reacts, “Damn, just what the world needed – one more kid … another colored kid.” Realizing that his mail carrier’s income will not make the nut when Frances goes on maternity leave, he calls his former employer at a PI agency for a short-term job.  The old partner sends him to glamorous, sweaty Mexico City where a wealthy widow wants him to catch the murderer of her husband.

Although the culprit is obvious, the plot has unexpected twists that make this an agreeable read. In Acapulco, then as now a fun park for the affluent, Touie feels disgusted at going through other people’s dirty laundry. He feels sympathetic toward his main suspect, who’s also a minority. Touie contemplates the uncomfortable notion that he is only “an Uncle Tom doing the white folks a favor.” Another highlight that distinguishes this novel are memorable side characters, especially  Janis, the drunken blonde from Texas and Frank, a retired American black who hilariously comes into a fortune, which does him little good.

Marcia Muller calls the Touie Moore character the “the first convincing black detective in crime fiction.” Academic critics regard him as a transitional figure – the decent man who does his best and doesn’t let prejudice or his own anger and frustration steal his joy– between the supermen Coffin Ed and Gravedigger in Chester Himes’ incredible novels in the Fifties and Ernest Tidyman’s character Shaft in the Seventies. Readers who like the tough, tense, and realistic detective fiction of Hammett and Macdonald tradition should get a kick out the Moore novels.

 

 

 

 


 

 

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One Response to “Mystery Monday – Moment of Untruth”

  1. Veronica S. (snowkitty) says:

    I’ve never adopted a pet at a shelter because there has always been someone I would meet up with that was preparing to throw away an animal, so I would take it home. The last two dogs I took in were pure breds; a black lab and then a pit bull. Most of the cats that blessed me with their presence just showed up at my door, including the one I have now, which is also a pure bred. I can’t have dogs anymore, so now I donate a small amount to the ASPCA every month. If everyone sends a little bit, it helps in huge ways.

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