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Devil in a Blue Dress (Easy Rawlins Mystery) Paperback – September 17, 2002
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"A suspenseful novel of human detection more than simply a detective novel....[Mosley is] a talented author with something vital to say about the distance between the black and white worlds, and with a dramatic way to say it." (The New York Times)
"Richly atmospheric...Devil in a Blue Dress honors the hard-boiled tradition of Hamett/Chandler/Cain in its story line line and attitude, but Mosley takes us down some mean streets that his spiritual predecessors never could have...A fast moving, entertaining story written with impressive style. This kind of book that leaves you yearning to read more about Easy Rawlins' adventures." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)
"The social commentary is sly, the dialogue is fabulous, the noir atmosphere so real you could touch it. A first novel? That what they say. Amazing. Smashing." (Cosmopolitan)
About the Author
Walter Mosley is the New York Times bestselling author of five Easy Rawlins mysteries: Devil in A Blue Dress, A Red Death, White Butterfly, Black Betty, and A Little Yellow Dog; three non-mystery novels, Blue Light, Gone Fishin', and R. L.'s Dream; two collections of stories featuring Socrates Fortlow, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, for which he received the Anisfield Wolf Award, and which was an HBO movie; and a nonfiction book, Workin' On The Chain Gang. Mosley is also the author of the Leonid McGill, and Fearless Jones mystery series, The Tempest Tales and Six Easy Pieces. He is a former president of the Mystery Writers of America, a founder of the PEN American Center Open Book Committee, and is on the board of directors of the National Book Awards. A native of Los Angeles, he now lives in New York City.
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Born and raised in Texas, like Easy Rawlins, I left Texas partly because of the racist attitudes prevalent there in the late 1950s and 1960s. Like Rawlins, I found California less stressful, because the racism was less entrenched and not "in my face" as it had been in Texas. I am Caucasian but participated in the Civil Rights Movement as a student. Many do not realize the degree to which racist language and behaviors are entrenched in our society. Walter Mosley presents these situations and problems in ways that raise our awareness and move us to question ourselves. I am now an Easy Rawlins fan and will read the other books.
It took me a long time to get around to reading this (even though I'm a HUGE fan of Mosley's scifi short story collection FUTURELAND), and I'm not sure why. It reads like a charm, still feels fresh (for this genre) and gives some interesting insight into LA in the 40s from the African American perspective.
I read this back-to-back with Chester Himes' IF HE HOLLERS, LET HIM GO, which is a blistering and caustic story set in the same time period -- but written then -- and these two books together paint a portrait of the ugly side of America and Los Angeles in terms of race relations, power grabs and the arbitrary nature of
This isn't a masterpiece, but it's not meant to be; it's hard-hitting 1940s-era crime fiction, and Mosley definitely knows how to twist the tension up when he needs to.
You'll definitely want to read more Mosley and Earl Rawlins stories after this.
Easy Rawlins is a WWII veteran with a good factory job that he has just lost due to racism and a mortgage due on a house that represents not only the American Dream to Easy but any security this hard world may offer. Wondering how he is going to pay his mortgage, Easy agrees when an acquaintance at his local speakeasy introduces him to a man who has an unusual task for him: locate a white woman named Daphne who has been frequenting the black jazz clubs of LA. Her rich white boyfriend wants to 'talk'. Easy agrees with an ambivalent combination of unease and excitement.
An odyssey through post-war Los Angeles ensues punctuated by connected murders, corruption in high places and a doomed love affair. Arguably the intrinsic ingredients to noir, but filtered through the perceptions of a man who isn't treated like a man by the customs of the time. This affects every aspect of Easy's search through nighttime LA. The social commentary on racism runs the risk of being either earnest or annoying but is in fact revelatory. The characterizations are good with hints of both depth and stock noir personas. Rawlinses prose is the standard lean prose with flashes of lyricism that defines noir with a sublte modern flavor that differentiates it from the classics. A good, well-constructed read and mystery. I look forward to the further adventures of Easy Rawlins.