By: Walter Mosley
Easy Rawlins is rough, self-assured, mature, street smart, definitely a man’s
man. A businessman who loves family and respects women, he is the amateur
investigator featured in 10 books by Walter Mosley.
It’s the 60’s – a violent time
in our history. An violence is the vehicle that Mosley uses to drive this story.
Watts 1965. For those who don’t know what went down, go Wiki it for the full 411.
But here’s a snapshot… Watts, is a black neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles,
California, that erupted violently in August 1965 after a white highway patrol
office stopped a black driver. Blacks in the neighborhood, like Blacks all over the
country during the 60’s were fed up with injustice. And more so with non-violent
protest. They gathered, observing this unusual traffic stop. They began throwing
rocks at the police. This escalated into five days of burning, looting, and
bloodshed. Blacks attached white people, fought police and shot at firefighters. It
took 15,000 National Guard troops to squash the rebellion.
Sounds familiar. Riots.
LA. 1992. Rodney King. Baby, there ain’t nothing new under the sun.
Angeles, August 1965, five days after the riots began is where the story Little
Scarlet kicks off.
Ezekiel Rawlins, as the white folks called him, fronts as the
head custodian at Sojourner Truth High School while keeping a private investigator
business on the down low. You know the brother doesn’t have a PI license, but that
doesn’t stop him for helping folks in his community. Easy ain’t no push over, but
deep down he can’t get over his southern gentleman roots. Roots that lead back to
Louisiana and Texas. He enlists the help of several interesting characters including
his, shoot first and never ask questions, “ace boon coon”, Raymond Alexander, better
known as “Mouse”
In the aftermath of the riots 34 people are killed. Although the
news only reports 33, the 34th is a young black woman who the police suspects was
killed by a white man. They need Easy’s assistance in solving the crime, because
they would get nowhere with white cops investigating the murder of a black woman by
a white man. That would be just the spark needed to rekindle the riots.
of the best-selling mystery writers, has weaved a story that is real, compelling,
engaging,…and puts the issue of black – white relations on blast. He does it in a
very easy and subtle way, which is contrasted with the way Easy moves through the
Yes, the story takes place in the aftermath of the Watts Riots…black-white
Yes, Easy is a black man who doesn’t trust the white police…black-white
Yes, there is the murder of a black woman by a white man – black-white
This tension explodes when Easy discovers who the murderer is and the fiery
rage that consumes him. Once the murderer is revealed, you will not be able to put
the book down. These are just a few of the many parallels that exist in the story.
You will definitely want to know what Easy and his friend Mouse gets into next.
There is a film in the works starring Jeffery Wright and Mos Def.
Reviewer: G. Perrin
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