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


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.


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."


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.


Willeford was an old school mystery writer. I believe this was the last book he wrote before he died. I think it’s the first of his I’ve read. It is ‘A Hoke Moseley Detective Thriller’. The book is pretty low key. It spends a lot of time going over the fairly humdrum day to day existence of the main character, a homicide cop named Mosely. Hoke Mosely seems very realistic. The whole book has that flavor of realism.When violence pops up in the book, it’s very sudden and brutal. Even there, the book seems realistic.I liked the book and will keep an eye out for more by Willeford

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.


** 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.

John Wilson

I know Willeford's style in his later years was somewhat...unique. That doesn't make it any less frustrating.

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.


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"?


Just aight. A pretty unremarkable novel in my opinion. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. The title most likely the best aspect. The novel was a nice time waster but eminently forgettable, though written well enough that I finished it....


Another noir gem with a heart as black as coal

Larry Webber

One of my favorite of Willeford's Hoke Moseley novels


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.

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