Cover image for Only the wicked : an Ivan Monk mystery
Only the wicked : an Ivan Monk mystery
Phillips, Gary, 1955-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Aurora, CO : Write Way Publishing, 2000.
Physical Description:
335 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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X Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Urban Fiction

On Order



Fourth in Gary Phillips' Ivan Monk PI series. (Booklist: A great hardboiled PI for the 90s.) Monk is present when an old friend dies in the local barbershop. When Monk tries to learn more about the man's past, Monk suddenly finds himself on the search of a mythical recording by blues great, Charlie Patton; and the death of two young white women in Mississippi in the 60s -- supposedly at the hands of a black militant leader.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Phillips' Ivan Monk series continues to receive far less attention than it deserves. The author's grasp of Southern California politics is razor sharp, and his evocation of inner-city L.A. is rivaled only by Gar Anthony Haywood in his Aaron Gunner series. Haywood's Gunner and Phillips' Monk, in fact, are similar characters: both fiercely independent African American private investigators, loyal to their families, proud of their community, uncanny in their ability to detect phoniness. This time Monk finds himself in the middle of a mystery that stretches from the Negro Baseball Leagues to the Mississippi Delta and back to Monk's own loved ones. The murder of Monk's cousin, former Negro Leaguer Kennesaw Riles, ostracized by the family for his spurious testimony against a black civil rights leader, takes Monk to Mississippi, where the trail leads to blues legend Charlie Patton and the racist Southern Citizens League. Phillips puts the historical material to good use, and he builds suspense effectively. Only the occasionally clumsy dialogue--too much backstory passed off as conversation--detracts from an otherwise gripping tale starring a genuinely charismatic hero. --Bill Ott

Library Journal Review

While Ivan Monk, an African American private investigator, swaps stories with cronies in a Los Angeles barber shop, an elderly former player in the Negro Leagues collapses and dies in front of them. Intrigued by the man's hitherto unknown past and because the old man played ball with Ivan's cousin, Ivan investigates. His cousin, ostracized since his "anti-black" testimony resulted in a long prison term for an aspiring politician, attends the funeral and then is murdered (casting suspicions on the first death). Full of neighborhood activity, baseball and jazz history, and general comments on the human condition, this fourth title in the series (after Bad Night Falling) belongs in most larger collections; fans of African American mysteries will certainly enjoy. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.