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Devil in a Blue Dress (Easy Rawlins Mysteries) Paperback – September 17, 2002

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Editorial Reviews Review

Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins has few illusions about the world--at least not about the world of a young black veteran in the late 1940s in Southern California. His stint in the Army didn't do anything to dissuade him from his belief that justice doesn't come cheap, especially for men like him. "I thought there might be some justice for a black man if he had money to grease it," Easy says. Fired from his job on the line at an aircraft plant, he's in danger of losing his home, symbol of his tenuous hold on middle class status. That's a good enough reason to accept a white man's offer to pay him for finding a beautiful, mysterious Frenchwoman named Daphne Monet, last seen in the company of a well-known gangster. Easy's search takes the reader to an L.A. few writers have shown us before--the mean streets of South Central, the after-hours joints in dirty basement clubs, the cheap hotels and furnished rooms, the places people go when they don't want to be found. Evocative of a past time, and told in a style that's reminiscent of Hammet and Chandler, yet uniquely his own, Mosley's depiction of an inherently decent man in a violent world of intrigue and corruption rang up big sales when it was published in 1990 (although the movie version, with Denzel Washington as Easy, never found the audience it deserved). The minor characters are deftly and brilliantly developed, especially Mouse, who saves Easy's life even as he draws him deeper into the mystery of Daphne Monet. Like many of Mosley's characters, Mouse makes a return appearance in the succeeding Easy Rawlins mysteries, such as A Red Death, Black Betty, and White Butterfly, every one of which is as good as Devil in a Blue Dress, his first. --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Reissue of the first book in Moseley's Easy Rawlins mystery series, in which Easy is hired to track down a woman who disappeared with someone else's money.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Easy Rawlins Mysteries
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press (September 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743451791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743451796
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Walter Mosley is one of America's most celebrated and beloved writers. His books have won numerous awards and have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Mosley is the author of the acclaimed Easy Rawlins series of mysteries, including national bestsellers Cinnamon Kiss, Little Scarlet, and Bad Boy Brawly Brown; the Fearless Jones series, including Fearless Jones, Fear Itself, and Fear of the Dark; the novels Blue Light and RL's Dream; and two collections of stories featuring Socrates Fortlow, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, for which he received the Anisfield-Wolf Award, and Walkin' the Dog. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By David Montgomery VINE VOICE on August 26, 1997
Format: Hardcover
There aren't many good African American mystery writers and there are even fewer black private eyes that you'd want to read about. Walter Mosley and Easy Rawlins, however, satisfy both of those criteria in solid fashion.
More than that, though, this is simply a good, fun read .

The setting is Los Angeles in the 1940s, probably the most fruitful noir time and place there is. During those boom years of post-war expansion, a man could make a good living and even buy a place of his own.

That's all that Easy Rawlins wants. When he's laid-off, though, he can't make his mortgage. He's going to lose his house and he'd rather do almost anything than that. He finds, though, that he has to do more than he bargained for.

When a mysterious white man offers him $100 to find a missing white woman, it seems simple enough. Nothing, of course, is ever as it seems. Rawlins quickly finds himself in trouble and there is no easy way out. It takes a hardness that he tries to hide for him to come out alive.

For a first novel, this book is very solid with a lot of personality. Mosley captures a people and culture that we don't get to read much about. Easy is a good, fresh character; one of the best new entries to the mystery scene in a while.

This book is recommended to everyone who enjoys a good hard-boiled mystery, especially fans of Raymond Chandler, Dashiel Hammett, and Ross Macdonald
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A. Wolverton VINE VOICE on May 5, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Easy Rawlins is not the typical private detective, but he is the freshest one to come around in a long time. Easy is an African American WWII veteran from Texas, now living in 1948 L.A. where he proudly owns a modest home. The home is all he has to be proud of since he got fired from his job at a defense plant. Life for Easy is not easy at all. Then one day, a white man dressed in a white suit offers Easy good money to locate a beautiful blonde known to hang out at black clubs. For a man with a mortgage and no money coming in, the offer is too good to be true. But then offers like this usually are.
The plot sounds typical, but Mosley's writing is anything but. Mosley paints a clear and atmospheric picture of racial segregation in post-war L.A., but that picture is not overexposed. Easy not only has to endure the dangers of finding this girl, he must do it in a hostile background where white policemen and higher-ups look for any type of crime that they might pin on him. The story of the transplanted man from the south living on the west coast is not unfamiliar, but making him a black man facing prejudice on every side makes the story more alive and the plot more tension-filled. Again, this is not done in a heavy-handed way, but with a subtle touch that makes you want to turn the pages.
Mosley is very much at home with the hard-boiled style of crime noir and it shows on every page. This is not a Hammett or Chandler re-hash. This is a fresh, lively, exciting mystery from a very fine writer. If you haven't experienced Mosley and Easy Rawlins, pick up the Blue Dress and try it on for size.
215 pages
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By mirasreviews HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"Devil in a Blue Dress" takes the reader to post-War Los Angeles, a city burgeoning with new industry and opportunity in 1948. The hero is Ezekiel "Easy" Rollins, a war veteran who came to L.A. for sunshine and good jobs, but now finds himself laid off and in danger of losing his home. A friend introduces him to a sleazy character named DeWitt Albright, who offers Easy the opportunity to make some money fast. Albright is looking for a woman named Daphne Monet. In a city that is largely socially segregated, Miss Monet, who is white, frequents black night clubs and has black friends -some of the same clubs and friends as Easy. Whether in desperation or out of pride, Easy accepts the job and sets out to find her. His search takes him on a tour of the city's shadows: underground jazz clubs, bootleggers and blackmailers, political corruption, and finally to the irresistible and mysterious Daphne Monet.
"Devil in a Blue Dress" is a pleasant, brisk read. Walter Mosley paints a colorful and intriguing picture of post-War Los Angeles. And his prose effectively expresses the fear and temptation that constantly compete for Easy Rollins' psyche. Easy Rollins is a working class detective who is lent a certain romanticism and distinction by the time and place in which the novel is set. This combination of qualities make Easy an ideal detective novel protagonist who will appeal to a wide array of readers. The character of Daphne Monet is less than believable, I'm afraid. But it is more essential that she be sexy and mysterious than that she be believed, so it is not a serious flaw. "Devil in a Blue Dress" has a little of everything -a likable hero, period ambiance, hard-boiled dialogue, sex, violence, mystery- without losing its focus. It won't appeal to fans of "cozies ", but most mystery buffs will find something enjoyable in it.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ross H Ostrander on April 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Walter Mosley's Devil In a Blue Dress is a fantastic mystery/crime drama set in Post World War II Los Angeles. The protagonist Easy Rawlins finds himself an unlikely but strong willed black detective sorting out a mystery-in-progress. The case begins as a simple `lost female' case but soon spins and develops into a multiple tiered story of blackmail and cover-up. The case begins to involve everyone from black bootleggers and gunmen to white mayoral candidates and prejudiced policemen. The beauty of the novel is its ability to put Easy in both situations of Black culture and White aristocracy. Both situations Easy runs headlong into, always managing to keep his pride intact. Like Chandler's Marlowe the story seems to evolve as characters fly in and out of Easy's life. But unlike Chandler, Mosley has accomplished the effect of creating truly perilous drama and action. There is a sense of immediacy and danger when Easy tells his story. Much of this feeling could be explained by the fact that Easy must battle not only for the truth, but also his right to grasp the truth as a black man. The novel works on a cultural critique level, making judgments and offering lessons on the hardships of American blacks and the importance of race in American culture.
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