Fire. Walter Mosley is well-known for his Easy Rawlins novels, and more recently for those featuring Leonid McGill. Mosley departs from those series with a finely written new novel titled, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey. Protagonist Mr. Grey is ninety one years old and experiencing the onset of dementia. Mosley presents Grey with such care and precision that all the heartbreak of losing one’s mind pervades these pages. Grey is surrounded by people trying to take advantage of him until seventeen-year-old Robyn Small becomes his caretaker. She cleans up his cluttered apartment, making it clean and functional, and takes Grey to a doctor who provides an experimental drug that temporarily reinvigorates all Grey’s thinking and memories. The last weeks of Grey’s life are spent in ensuring a legacy that will provide meaning. A theme of fire runs through this novel, from a childhood scene to the powerful drug burning up his body and mind. Any reader who likes good character-based fiction is likely to enjoy this novel. Anyone who has direct experience of dementia will find this novel realistic and poignant.
Rating: Four-star (Highly Recommended)
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