The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosely is a gratifying stand alone novel by the writer who has given us Easy Rawlins, Fearless Jones, and Socrates Fortlow. Charles Blakey is a depressed, self-destructive black man living in his family house. He’s lost his job and can’t get another. He is about to lose his house. He has lost his girlfriend and before the second chapter is out, he is close to losing one of his best friends. But a stranger comes knocking, one that can make at least his financial life better, simply for allowing him to live in Blakey’s basement.
This tale, of course, is not just about the secrets of the odd white man, who has asked to be jailed on Blakey’s properly. It is about the secrets that drive Charles’ own behavior and about redeeming oneself. The arrangement sets in motion soul searching on the part of one as a result of the soul searching on the part of the other.
The Man In My Basement about the redemption that only comes about when one allows others in. Blakey is the sort of lonely soul many can relate to and his transformation is more than credible. I was interested not only how the ghosts of his past, particularly his uncle, had shaped him, but how Blakey’s ancestors stood with him whether he wanted them there or not. The novel stands up quite well in Mosley’s already substantial canon.