It's 1948 in Los Angeles. Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins has just lost his job and is worried that he'll also lose the one thing he really loves, his house with fruit trees in the yard. When a white man offers him a hundred bucks to track down a woman for her boyfriend, he reluctantly agrees. But a seemingly simple job turns more and more complex, leading to murder and the uncovering of some very ugly secrets.
Honestly, there isn't much I can say about this book that hasn't already been said by better reviewers than me. It's brilliant. The writing is fantastic, the setting is so noir it probably makes noir fans weep with angry joy that nothing else even comes close, and the plot is complex without ever being confusing.
Easy is a cautious, intelligent man, but he's seen more than his share of death in the war. The book is violent without making the violence seem glamorous, which I appreciate. At times I had to surface from reading and remind myself that this was fiction, because the racism Easy has to deal with enraged me so much I thought I'd have a stroke. But after I reminded myself it was fiction, I remembered that reality was and often still is even worse. It's a rare mystery that makes me reflect without also annoying me, but there's no message clubbing readers over the head here; it's just Easy, trying to keep himself from being accused of murder while trying to find out what's really going on.
As I said, this is a brilliant book. I'm astounded that I haven't read anything by Walter Mosley before, but I'm happy he's written so many books. I plan to read them all.