From Publishers Weekly
Fans of Mosley's Easy Rawlins mysteries received a bonus when Washington Square recently reissued in trade paper the six novels that preceded the latest one, Bad Boy Brawly Brown (2002). Each reprint contained an original short story featuring Easy. Now, those stories and a seventh never before published have been gathered together in a volume that's something of a patchwork but still vintage Mosley. In his mid-forties, with a makeshift but tight family and a respectable and responsible job, Easy no longer needs to depend on trading favors to earn a living. But these stories reflect a more restless and reckless man-one who finds himself being drawn to the street life he thought he had left behind. Energized and unsettled by rumors that the dangerous and unpredictable Raymond Alexander, better known as Mouse, might still be alive, Easy undertakes to determine the truth. That extended search also finds Easy undertaking a number of jobs that recall his forte of being a black man more capable than most of dealing with the volatile intersection of blacks and whites in Los Angeles. In short order he investigates arson, murder, a missing person and other crimes. The linked stories form an extended search not only for Mouse but also for answers as Easy confronts the familiar demons of mid-life crisis. Easy occupies center stage, surrounded by a stellar cast of both new and familiar characters, while the spirit of Mouse hovers enticingly nearby.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Easy Rawlins is 44 and working a steady job as head custodian at Sojourner Truth Junior High School; mourning the death of his friend Mouse; caring for his adopted children, Jesus and Feather; and pining for his live-in girlfriend, Bonnie. But this "guy who trades in favors"--really an unofficial detective who helps those who can't go to the police--isn't ready to live the quiet life. As he works a variety of cases involving theft, blackmail, and usually murder, the ghost of his violent alter ego Mouse seems to be flitting about the periphery--Is he really dead?--and Easy's sense of unease is compounded by deep insecurity in his relationship with the woman he loves. This collection of related short stories has an unusual lineage: all but the last, "Amber Gate," were first published in Washington Square Press reissues of all six classic Easy Rawlins mysteries this year (Six Easy Pieces
picks up just after the time of 1996's A Little Yellow Dog
). Collecting them so soon would feel more like a marketing ploy if they didn't work so well together; despite periodic recaps of the action-to-date, the book reads like an episodic novel. Mosley is as fine as ever, offering compelling commentary on black-white relations in 1964, writing in a style so simple that it deceives us into thinking writing great fiction is as easy as putting one foot in front of the other. It's not, but turning these pages is. Keir GraffCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved