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Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned [Paperback]

Walter Mosley
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

26 Oct 1998
Meet Socrates Fortlow, a tough ex-con seeking truth and redemption in South Central Los Angeles-- and finding the miracle of survival.

"I either committed a crime or had a crime done to me every day I was in jail. Once you go to prison you belong there." Socrates Fortlow has done his time: twenty-seven years for murder and rape, acts forged by his huge, rock-breaking hands. Now, he has come home to a new kind of prison: two battered rooms in an abandoned building in Watts. Working for the Bounty supermarket, and moving perilously close to invisibility, it is Socrates who throws a lifeline to a drowning man: young Darryl, whose shaky path is already bloodstained and fearsome. In a place of violence and hopelessness, Socrates offers up his own battle-scarred wisdom that can turn the world around.

Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (26 Oct 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671014994
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671014995
  • Product Dimensions: 20.9 x 13.7 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,821,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Amazon Review

In this cycle of 14 bittersweet stories, Walter Mosley breaks out of the genre--if not the setting--of his bestselling Easy Rawlins detective novels. Only eight years after serving out a prison sentence for murder, Socrates Fortlow lives in a tiny, two-room Watts apartment, where he cooks on a hot plate, scavenges for bottles, drinks and wrestles with his demons. Struggling to control a seemingly boundless rage--as well as the power of his massive "rock-breaking" hands--Socrates must find a way to live an honourable life as a black man on the margins of a white world, a task which takes every ounce of self-control he has.

Easy Rawlins fans might initially find themselves disappointed by the absence of a mystery to unravel. But it's a gripping inner drama that unfolds over the pages of these stories, as Socrates comes to grips with the chaos, poverty and violence around him. He tries to get and keep a job delivering groceries; takes in a young street kid named Darryl, who has his own murder to hide; and helps drive out the neighbourhood crack dealer. Throughout, Mosley captures the rhythms of Watts life in prose both lyrical and hard-edged, resulting in a haunting look at a life bounded by lust, violence, fear and a ruthlessly unsentimental moral vision. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


"The Los Angeles Times Book Review" "Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned" is the work of a writer unafraid of pushing forward his own notions of responsibility and entitlement.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Book From An Excellent Author!!! 11 Dec 1999
Having not read a single book for almost two years I embarked on purchasing this Walter Mosley novel purely on the basis of the review. I had never even heard of Mosley let alone come across any of his work and after reading this tale of ghetto life for an ex-convict I must admit that I was amazed at just how captivating books can be. Just days later I then went and purchased two of his earlier novels Devil in a blue dress and Black Betty, at this stage after reading devil in a blue dress I can honestly say that Walter Mosley is arguably a writer of the highest calibre. With his words and vision he immerses you into the world of the leading character, whether it be Easy Rawlins (Devil in a blue dress, Black Betty) or Socrates Fortlow.He gives you such an indepth impression of the characters surroundings that as you read you can envisage the world he lives in and the people he meets along the way so vividly in your mind. The whole reason that I gave up reading books was because I never came across any that made me want to read them for hours on end, until I came across Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned that is. If your looking for a book that has you gripped from start to finish then youv'e just found it!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Synopsis from back cover 31 Oct 2008
By Mary_10
'Socrates thought about a promise he'd made. He swore to himself that he'd never hurt another person, except if he had to do it for self-preservation. He swore to try and do good if the chance came before him. That way he could ease the evil deeds that he had perpetrated in the long evil life that he'd lived.'

Socrates Forltow has spent 27 years in prison and can kill a man with his bare hands. But now he's out and determined to use his strength for good, to help the downtrodden and oppressed of the Los Angeles ghetto. Tough, tender and wise, Socrates goes to work, running a killer out of town, turning a young man away from a life of crime, restraining himself when the wrong kind of women tempt him.

Like his Greek namesake, Socrates Fortlow asks questions in am attempt to understand his world. His attempt to find morality in poverty and deprivation makes Socrates a modern-day hero.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Annabel Gaskell VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Like Michael Connelly's Hieronymous 'Harry' Bosch and John Connolly's Charlie Parker, Walter Mosley's Socrates Fortlow has a name to live up to, and like them, he certainly does.

Socrates is not a young man; he's survived twenty seven years in jail for murder, and he now aims to spend his days trying to be helpful, to do good and not to be violent any more to help atone for his wrong-doing. However that violence is always still simmering underneath, and he's not afraid to use it in self-defence or defence of his friends. He tries hard to make ends meet, finds a job, and mentors young Darryl who would otherwise be in a gang, and he's a good peacemaker - even if he has to administer a punch or two to get it!

This is a series of short stories, some previously published in other sources. They may belie this by each having a few similar sentences to establish Socrates situation at the outset, but they all entwine and work beautifully as a chronological cycle of tales too. Socrates is a classic hard man with a soft centre, a good friend to those who know him well and a sympathetic hero with real depth. Absolutely fantastic.
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By A Customer
Having gone through everyhting Walter Mosely had written I found myself almost rebelling against other authors for not bringing characters to life in the same intimiate, violent and real fashion that Mosely does. I'm a huge fan, and friend, of Easy Rawlins. Was I going to have another soul mate in Scorates Fortlow? Socrates is likeable, although he doesn't like himself. What he needs is for people to acknowledge his presence on this earth and allow him to feel some dignity. Would Socrates and Easy have gotten along? Maybe, but I also think Easy would have felt the wrath of Socrates massive fists if he's stuck around too long also! Maybe someone should ask Mosely. A first class read and journey through L.A. from the uncomfortable side.
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