Seymour Brathwaite, a young physicist, was found standing over the body of a murdered man.
Charcoal Joe, one of the deadliest men in America, wants Brathwaite cleared.
Easy Rawlins, a renowned Los Angeles PI, cannot refuse Charcoal Joe.
But what links the king of the LA underworld to Seymour Brathwaite?
And can Easy find the evidence before he gets embroiled in something much, much worse?
MWA Grand Master Mosley's 14th Easy Rawlins mystery finds the unconventional, now middle-aged PI at the tail end of L.A.'s Swinging 60s, struggling with a broken heart (his wife-to-be opts for a return to her former partner), racist cops, crooked cops, murderous mobsters, deceitful informants, and a number of beautiful women eager to seduce him. Lucky for Easy, the author's other series character, Fearless Jones, arrives to assist with charm and smooth efficiency. Reader Boatman, no stranger to Easy's attitude knowing, wry, and just a bit shy of sarcastic adds that and more to the sleuth's first-person narration. His Fearless has the lift of joyous optimism that comes from being able to accomplish just about any task. Mosley's plot is more complex than Raymond Chandler at his most perplexing, but, as in Chandler's books, there are enough unique characters and entertaining scenes to compensate for that. Boatman's well-planned voices, pacing, and cool delivery make this a must for Easy fans. A Doubleday hardcover.
Multi-award winning African-American novelist. Crime Writers of America Grandmaster. He has written 50 books in total, but is best known for his tales about black Los Angeles detective Ezekiel Porterhouse “Easy” Rawlins. The first, ‘Devil in a Blue Dress,’ appeared in 1990 and was made into a movie starring Denzel. (Who else?) That was set in 1948 with Easy eking a living after serving inn the army during World War II. ‘Charcoal Joe,’ the 14th offering in the series, is set in 1968.
Our hero is now in his late forties, has sworn off alcohol, is down to one Lucky Strike per day, and has joined two white detectives in an agency. He is a devoted single father involved in a relationship with a woman she believes is the love of his life until she reveals she’s married to someone else. True to form, Easy takes this setback in his stride. He has little time for rumination after being hired by the titular Joe, an ageing criminal gang boss and accomplished artist temporarily cooling his heels in jail. A young black academic, Joe’s illegitimate spawn, is falsely accused of murder. Easy to the rescue. A suitably convoluted plot unfolds.
A host of colourful characters, perhaps too many, from previous Rawlins novels make appearances. If you’ve never read anything by Mr Mosley before, don't worry. The guy is an absolute master of pithy description, rarely needing more than two sentences to create a deft character portrait, e.g. “Seated on a tall brown stool was Elias Shaw - three hundred and then some pounds of muscle, hard fat, and bad intentions.” The characterisation, dialogue, and plotting owe plenty to Raymond Chandler, but which writer of hard boiled crime fiction doesn’t.
What impresses me most about Easy Rawlins books - I’ve read six now - are the insights into US racial discrimination in all its forms, sometime subtle, sometimes not. Colson Whitehead’s ‘The Underground Railroad' and ‘The World and Me’ by Ta-Neshi Coates are recent much vaunted offerings on that perennial problem. While both were excellent, I've learned as much if not more about its insidiousness from Mr Mosely.