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Only the Wicked (An Ivan Monk Mystery #4) (Paperback)

Only the Wicked (An Ivan Monk Mystery #4) By Gary Phillips Cover Image
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Black private eye Ivan Monk takes on his most personal mystery to date—and chases answers deep into America’s shameful past.

Half a century ago, Old Man Spears was a hero of the ballpark. In an age when baseball was segregated, he played in the Negro Leagues, providing hope for a generation of oppressed African Americans. Decades later, Spears is an old man in a barbershop making ends meet. An offhand comment about a former teammate, Kennesaw Riles, shocks one of his customers, private eye Ivan Monk, who has deeply buried memories of a ball-playing cousin by that name. Monk knows little of Riles, who has been on the outs with his family since his questionable testimony put civil rights leader Damon Creel behind bars for murder back in the 60s. But before Monk can get the full story, Spears drops dead. Days later, Kennesaw Riles follows suit. Monk knows that the timing is not a coincidence. 

To understand the pair of deaths as well as his own past, Monk digs into his family history. He follows the mystery to Mississippi, where he further unravels the murder of two civil rights activists and connects the dots to a group of Mississippi businessmen who may not have changed their ways as much as they claim. Far from Los Angeles, the tenacious P.I. is forced to confront a brand of hatred that he thought had died with Jim Crow.

An LA thriller with roots in the Deep South, Only the Wicked weaves together baseball, blues, and backwoods politics in iconic P.I. Ivan Monk’s most personal and politically resonant case to date.

About the Author

Gary Phillips has published novels, comics, novellas, short stories and edited or co-edited several anthologies, including the Anthony-winning The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir. Almost 30 years after its publication, his debut, Violent Spring, was named one of the essential crime novels of Los Angeles. He also was a story editor on Snowfall, an FX show about crack and the CIA in 1980s South Central, where he grew up.

Praise For…

Praise for Only the Wicked

"[Phillips'] is a voice that should be heard and celebrated."
—Michael Connelly, New York Times bestselling author of the Harry Bosch mysteries

"We always hope that fiction will make us wise. Writing it, at least, seems to have made Gary Phillips wise far beyond his years: he knows that communicites are our new villages; that the same river runst through blues, bebop and rap; that the past, however we try to outdistance it, is always our present. Most importantly, he embraces the one true mystery: the mystery that we remain, forever, to one another."
—James Sallis, author of Drive

“Gary Phillips is my kind of writer and Ivan Monk my kind of detective . . . . An unbeatable combination.”
—Sara Paretsky, author of the V. I. Warshawski series

"If Walter Mosley woke up the genre [of LA-based crime fiction] to the fact that contemporary Black writers can jam on noir like juke joints, long shadows, and mean streets as surely as Michael Jordan is the Mozart of the hardwood, then Gary Phillips . . . should positively nail its devotees to the wall."
The Austin Chronicle

"[Phillips] is a natural-born writer, who has clearly studied his predecessors, both literary and political, US and foreign. He writes a tight, unadorned phrase most of the time, which serves to highlight his excursions into traditional snappy dialogue and hard-boiled philosophy."
The Morning Star (UK)

"[A] gripping tale starring a genuinely charistmatic hero."

Praise for the Ivan Monk series
“In the tradition of Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Op, Ivan Monk takes on a corrupt world . . . He makes us feel that the war he’s waging is for our own salvation.”
—Walter Mosley, author of the Easy Rawlins series
“Seen through the prose of Gary Phillips, L.A. seems a new and much more interesting place.” 
—Tom Nolan, author of Ross Macdonald: A Biography
“Phillips creates a harrowing, deft portrayal of post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, capturing its people, its mood and its language with a skill so keen that he verges on sleight of hand.”
—Wendy Hornsby, author of the Maggie MacGowen series
“Gary Phillips knows Los Angeles and gives readers a realistic, gritty portrait of this city in turmoil through the eyes of his African-American PI.”
The Armchair Detective
“Monk’s sense of absurdity and his perfectly emulsified blend of toughness and tenderness make him one of crime fiction’s most appealing heroes.”

Product Details
ISBN: 9781641294454
ISBN-10: 1641294450
Publisher: Soho Crime
Publication Date: August 20th, 2024
Pages: 336
Language: English
Series: An Ivan Monk Mystery