Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley

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.

B&N link


Pam said...

I heard Walter Mosley speak at a NCIBA event. He mentioned a mystery but I hadn't looked it up he was there to promote another book. Thanks for the review!

K.C. Shaw said...

I'd love to hear him speak. From his writing, he must be remarkably intelligent and interesting!

Richard said...

I've got Mosley's "Wave" around here somewhere; found it interesting and well written, but not remarkably compelling. I'll bring it along when I see you in April.

K.C. Shaw said...

Ooh, free book! I've got a few for you too.

I picked up The Long Fall by Mosley today at a library sale. It looks really dark but really good.