The Way We Die Now

ISBN: 1400032504
ISBN 13: 9781400032501
By: Charles Willeford Donald E. Westlake

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About this book

When Miami Homicide Detective Hoke Moseley receives an unexplained order to let his beard grow, he doesn't think much about it. He has too much going on at home, especially with a man he helped convict ten years before moving in across the street. Hoke immediately assumes the worst, and considering he has his former partner, who happens to be nursing a newborn, and his two teenage daughters living with him, he doesn't like the situation on bit. It doesn't help matters when he is suddenly assigned to work undercover, miles away, outside of his jurisdiction and without his badge, his gun, or his teeth. Soon, he is impersonating a drifter and tring to infiltrate a farm operation suspected of murdering migrant workers. But when he gets there for his job interview, the last thing he is offered is work.In this final installment of the highly acclaimed Hoke Moseley novels, Charles Willeford's brilliance and expertise show on every page. Equally funny, thrilling, and disturbing, The Way We Die Now is a triumphant finish to one of the most original detective series of all time.

Reader's Thoughts


** spoiler alert ** Charles Willeford is one of the undiscovered masters of the American mystery. He wrote marvelous books that are far superior to those of much more popular authors. This is no exception and features Hoke Moseley, his Miami homicide detective sergeant. Williford’s world is darkly ironic and the humdrum, normal aspects of life, become part of the tension. Hoke is forced to make a series of accomodations and compromises, some very dark in this book. Hoke has been working on a series of unsolved murders when his boss, Major Brownley and Mel, an immigration cop, ask him to go undercover to root out the murderer of some illegal Haitian immigrants. The woman he is living with — not really living with in the common sense, they are chastely sharing a house to save money with Hoke’s two teenage daughters -- ex-partner Ellita and her baby, has begun showing interest in a new neighbor, Donald Hutton, a man Hoke has reason to worry about because Hoke believes him to be a murderer who was released from jail too early. Hutton had sworn to get Hoke. He’s also working on a cold case, the murder of a physician, and he has just uncovered a clue that he believes will help solve the case, so he’s not enthusiastic about the new undercover work. It turns out to be a bloody assignment — there is a truly shocking scene where the foreman of the farm tries to kill and sodomize Hoke — one that we learn at the end of the novel was something of a setup to see how he would be able to react in difficult and lonely situations. Willeford easily ranks with Hammett and McDonald.

Cathy DuPont

Charles Willeford is considered 'hard-boiled' which is 'my genre' and I really liked this book more because it's set in Florida. South Florida but Florida nevertheless and I'm drawn to Florida books and writers. Sgt. Hoke Moseley, Miami PD, is THE Man. He's real, in part, because of Willeford's sparse writing. I love this character who had his teeth in the first of the series, lost them, bought some expensive 'chopper' then and lost them and can't afford to buy more on his police salary. A good thing his lost them because in this book he fits right in with the characters around him. And Moseley's funny without trying to be. I love to see humor surrounding so much choas and blending in just fine, thank you. Loads of action with some really dark scenes. But, that's my kindof book, my kind of writing, too. So glad I discovered Charles Willeford. He's my kindof guy, too.


I really, really tried to make this book last since it's the last of the Hoke Moseley books and as you know from my previous reviews, I've developed a little crush thing on the guy, but I couldn't put it down. I'm so sad to be done with it. Feels a little weird writing this review so soon. Body's still warm, etc. By this, the 4th book, I was starting to notice a pattern. And I don't mean that in a bad way. It was a pattern I liked: the first chapter obscurely references what will be the main crime of the book, then we get a bunch of Hoke being Hoke (making sandwiches, drinking Old Styles, being the best/worst dad ever), a side case for him to solve, a crazy awesome disgusting blood bath as the main crime plays out, and then a satisfying denouement, where Hoke is seemingly put out at first, but in the end things actually end up working out okay for him. But--slight spoilers--this was the first time that I actually sort of felt sad for Hoke at the end of the book. I might be projecting the sadness I feel about finishing the series, but I dunno, this one ended on a down note. Other notes: Hoke pees his pants again! See! I have to love this guy. Here is a list of words/names that appear in this book: cornhole, Vinnie Testeverde. Hoke milks a goat. Out of the four, Sideswipe might be my favorite. Oh, so there's also a 5th unpublished Hoke Moseley manuscript floating around called Grimhaven. But it's not actually a 5th book in the series. It's actually the second Hoke Moseley book. Willeford was told by his agent to turn his success off Miami Blues into a series, and Willeford wanted nothing of it so he wrote a big fuck-you sequel wherein Hoke does some horrendous, horrendous things. But his published wisely passed on it. Then I guess Willeford played ball and cannibalized the good parts of Grimhaven to create New Hope for the Dead, Sideswipe, and The Way We Die Now. Anyway, apparently you can read the manuscript in some library in Florida, or it's fairly easy to find a PDF of it online. I might do it.


Alas, the last book in the Hoke series. It would have been nice to see where Willeford took this had he lived, but in any event TWWDN is a nice cap to the story, with another great Willeford ending that I didn't see coming.

Patrick McCoy

The Way We Die Now (1988) is the last Hoke Moseley novel as well as the last novel written by Charles Willeford. And, as usual it, was great to inhabit this downtrodden world of late 80s Florida with the engaging Hoke Moseley. It's too bad, because I can see that Willeford ended this novel with the possibility of continuing the series. There are three mysteries that Moseley solves through the course of the novel. However, in the process we gets some great descriptions of food, clothes, and subjects as diverse as: car washes, Haitian migrant workers, truck driving, Florida governors, and Rafael Sabatini's Scaramouche. The Hoke Moseley novels have been finished, however, I still have several other books by Willeford to savor and enjoy.


The fourth and final installment in Charles Willeford’s Hoke Mosely series finds Hoke undercover investigating the murder of Haitian immigrants, possibly at the hands of their employer. There are also two other story lines: one involving an ex con who Hoke put away for murdering his brother, recently freed from prison and living across the street from Hoke and his family, and another involving a cold case, the murder of a physician, the suspect being the victim’s partner now married to his widow and living in his house.The story lines involving the ex-con and the cold case mix well together, and you expect the undercover mission—which interrupts their developments—to somehow tie it all together. But that doesn’t really seem to happen. There are some interesting implications to the investigation. Hoke’s journey into rural Reagan-era Florida is darkly funny, but also offers a stark depressing contrast of poverty and lawlessness in the deep south vs. a gentrifying modern diverse metropolis like Miami. Without giving too much away, the Haitian story line ends much like the robberies in Miami Blues and Sideswipe, with spectacularly vivid brutality and gore. With regard to the villains, justice is done, but it’s the fate of their surviving victims—poor illiterate Haitians— that’s left open and uncertain. Speculating about their fate—will they take the fall for Hoke’s misstep?—offers the only possible link to the rest of the novel, and that may or may not be intentional. Of the four Hoke Moseley books, this is probably the weakest. A lot of details that setup the undercover mission, the cold case investigation, and the paroled convict seem a little porous, less thorough and detail-specific than its predecessors. Similar to New Hope For The Dead the story takes place entirely through Hoke’s point of view, centering around a whodunit. The problem is, we know whodunit after about four chapters, leaving little suspense to keep the reader interested in the case. That’s not to say this isn’t a good read. There are some pretty great parts to this book that only Willeford would write, and I was sorry to finish it knowing this is the last of the series. I highly recommend Hoke Moseley’s exploits to anyone who’s a fan of Elmore Leonard or Raymond Chandler. That’s not to say Willeford wasn’t unique. The world is definitely a less interesting place without him writing about it.


TWWDN is American noir set in Miami, the final book in the series featuring the shambling but endearing character Hoke Mosely; the series began with "Miami Blues" in 1984 and ended with this novel, Willeford's last in 1988. The hallmark of CW's writing is the ease with which he sets up scenes, the simple detail he provides that portray the sultry setting which belie the surprises that the unflappable Mosely manages to discover.CW is the kind of guy you would like to take a writing class form, have a beer with in a dark nameless bar but that will not be happening. I mean, what's not to like about a guy who wrote a book called "Deliver Me From Dallas"?




Great title---one of the best interextual noir spins on another title ever, in fact. Every time I think of Trollope (or John W. Aldridge, who copped THE WAY WE LIVE NOW from Trol), I think of Willeford, in the same way I can't think of "Stairway to Heaven" without conjuring the B-H Sufers' "Hairway to Steven." The novel itself is deceptively ramshackle. Subplots come and go, conflicts taper off, the prologue featuring the dastardly villain seems to have no relevance ... until, anyway, the hero is sent off on a secret undercover mission that involves a toothless henchman prodding what DeLillo would call his underworld. (No, the bad guys aren't TSA agents). The threat of homosexual rape that flushes through the bowels of noir gets a little tedious, but Willeford belonged to another generation in which that fear somehow clinched their masculinity precisely at the moment that they clenched. If the book seems a stroll rather than a beat-down, the knock-out uppercut comes in the final line, impeccably uttered by one of the hero's own daughters, which somehow manages to sum up every Hemingway-derived code hero ever created in a way that seems obvious and yet affecting. And what she says isn't "I love you, Daddypaddles."


The enjoyment I had reading this book was offset by the sorrow that this was the last of Charles Willeford's Hoke Moseley series. Willeford died shortly after its publication leaving behind a legacy of great noir crime back to the early fifties. After a long and varied career Willeford finally struck real commercial pay dirt with the Hoke series that began with the classic, Miami Blues, in the early 80s. Willeford expertly tells his stories without resorting to cheap sentimentality; the "good" guys are fallible strugglers and the 'bad' guys get their comeuppance. In this one, he is still working cold cases. His partner/housemate, Ellita, has taken a medical retirement from the force to raise her baby son and help Hoke with his 2 teenage daughters. Hoke has to manage an ex crim he put away ten years prior moving in across the street from his house, an incapable new partner in a dead end cold case they are working on and a request from his superior officer to go undercover in upstate Florida to bust a nasty piece of work who is murdering Haitian farm workers. There's plenty of humorous and insightful social commentary, a feature of all Willeford's writing.The saddest thing is that, judging by the ending, Willeford had plenty of material to further explore this unique crime fighter, Hoke Moseley, as he fights to raise his kids and keep his corner of the world as clean as possible. I highly recommend the Moseley series of books


I suspect the people who write disapproving reviews of Willeford's novels were expecting something closer to normal stories and characters. But Hoke Mosley is far from normal. This novel begins with a secret assignment and ends with major life changes for Hoke and his daughters. The story keeps you guessing, and the plot never goes where you expect it to go.


The Way We Die by Charles Willeford A Hoke Moseley Novel, the last in the series. Hoke is a Miami police detective who lives with two teenage daughters. He solves a cold case murder and he goes undercover to deal with a super mean Florida farmer who mistreats his migrant workers. I liked this book. Hoke is a likable character who is a good but not a great detective who has his own internal pulls.


I finished the last of Willeford's Hoke Moseley novels with no small measure of regret. Going from Patterson to Willeford is like going from McDonald's (which might not be fair to McDonald's) to mom's home cooking (no Michelin stars but the stuff that makes the heart glow) - the difference between these two authors, both of whom write fiction that primarily 'entertains,' could not be starker. Willeford's prose is clean and evocative; he is brilliant with characterizations and detailing; he is funny; he is masterly with Florida's pied ethnic enclaves; and he is no slouch at telling a damn good tale.


Wow. Might become my favorite book in this series (aside from the brilliant first one), a hugely under-looked series of crime novels set in Florida. I always tell friends that reading Willeford is something like if Werner Herzog wrote noir fiction. Both amoral and almost humanistic, or at least psychologically astute. His books are also strange, surreal, often funny, always fascinating. Anyway, this is the fourth and last in his series of Hoke Moseley novels. They are all great and should be read in order. Plus, since no one knows of him, you can often find used first edition books of his for under five bucks. What are you waiting for?


What is it about South Florida and pulp crime novels? Anyway, I'd have read this one for the title alone, but then Willeford was good with titles. Also, I like Hoke Moseley as a character. But, you know, in the end, it's just pulp and while it was fine as far as that goes, it's not the best story or storytelling or prose. So ... 3 stars.

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