Always Outnumbered, Always
In his eighth novel, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, Mosley creates a new protagonist, Socrates Fortlow. Having spent twenty-seven years in an Indiana prison, Socrates has now been released for eight years. In a series of single-chapter vignettes set in the mid-1990s, the novel charts several months in his life as he continues to adjust to living as a free man in the Watts section of Los Angeles. Though he wants desperately to lead a productive life devoid of the violence and poor judgment that resulted in his incarceration, Socrates finds himself confronted with social ills and injustices that test his mettle and potentially threaten his freedom. Along the way, however, he encounters people who do not judge him unfairly, and they help to restore and preserve the humanity that he strives to maintain. Still, Socrates understands that the rules of the street sometimes require him to pursue unorthodox methods not only for his own survival, but also for the survival of those about whom he has come to care.
In the chapter entitled “Crimson Shadow” the novel opens at six o’clock A.M., when Socrates spies a boy moving about stealthily in the alley adjacent to his rented house. Suspicious, Socrates confronts the child, Darryl, and finds that he has just killed the neighbor’s rooster. Forcing the elevenyear-old into his house, Socrates interrogates the boy about his actions