#BlackLoveBooks Challenge Day 13: Mystery
Walter Mosley is well-known for his Easy Rawlins mystery series, but The Man in My Basement is a standalone mystery novel.
Thirty-something Charles Dodd-Blakely is a heavy drinker, unemployed and after missing several mortgage payments, is in danger of losing the Long Island, New York, house that he lives in and has been in his family for generations. One day Anniston Bennet, a white man in his late fifties, offers Blakely $50,000 to rent out his basement for the summer. Bennet did not choose Blakely randomly.
Even though Bennet is the tenant, Blakely must agree to abide by some rules. The main one being that Blakely must act as Bennet’s jailer. He has transformed the basement into a giant prison-like cage, in which he has locked himself. Throughout the novel, the reader and Blakely go on a journey to try and figure out why Bennet has imposed this punishment of self-imprisonment. Could it be atonement for something in his past?
While preparing for his new tenant, Blakely cleans out the basement, which has boxes of antique family heirlooms. This leads to him sparking up a relationship with the antiques dealer, who helps him trace his family history via the boxed heirlooms. The antiques dealer is one of two “romantic” relationships Blakely juggles. Both women are completely different, and help Blakely realize different aspects about his life.
I enjoyed reading and recommend The Man in My Basement. There are clear themes of race, class, and a power struggle between the men. Far more eloquent and intelligent people write about these topics than I can without me risking plagiarism. Even if you’re not interested in reading into those deeper themes, the plot of the novel will keep you in suspense. Blakely’s strange new world and tenant make the book a page-turner.