LITTLE GREEN (An Easy Rawlins Mystery)
Author: Walter Mosley
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Format: ARC (Received copy for an honest review)
Recommended Reading: AGE+ 17
Contains No Spoilers
OVERALL THOUGHTS: Mosley sure has a way with words and a vivid, elaborate imagination. This hardboiled mystery was a web of details that had my head spinning, reeling and then thrown around for a second and third round. Detective Easy Rawlins, of Devil and a Blue Dress fame is not only smart and strong-willed, but he teeters cautiously on the precipice of right and wrong, struggling to make things right, at any cost. Mosley’s perfectly crafted words and the tone of this Los Angeles noir style tale is pitch perfect. Aside from a few elements I could have done without, this book created an image of the City of Angels that was both familiar and foreign to this California native and I found myself engrossed in the books vividness.
[note color=”#b5fd9b”]SYNOPSIS: When Walter Mosley burst onto the literary scene in 1990 with his first Easy Rawlins mystery, Devil in a Blue Dress—a combustible mixture of Raymond Chandler and Richard Wright—he captured the attention of hundreds of thousands of readers (including future president Bill Clinton). Eleven books later, Easy Rawlins is one of the few private eyes in contemporary crime fiction who can be called iconic and immortal. In the incendiary and fast-paced Little Green, he returns from the brink of death to investigate the dark side of L.A.’s 1960s hippie haven, the Sunset Strip.
We last saw Easy in 2007’s Blonde Faith, fighting for his life after his car plunges over a cliff. True to form, the tough WWII veteran survives, and soon his murderous sidekick Mouse has him back cruising the mean streets of L.A., in all their psychedelic 1967 glory, to look for a young black man, Evander “Little Green” Noon, who disappeared during an acid trip. Fueled by an elixir called Gator’s Blood, brewed by the conjure woman Mama Jo, Easy experiences a physical, spiritual, and emotional resurrection, but peace and love soon give way to murder and mayhem. Written with Mosley’s signature grit and panache, this engrossing and atmospheric mystery is not only a trip back in time, it is also a tough-minded exploration of good and evil, and of the power of guilt and redemption. Once again, Easy asserts his reign over the City of (Fallen) Angels.[/note]
THE LOWDOWN: There are two cities on this planet I could navigate with my eyes closed, NYC and Los Angeles. What makes this book so special is my relation to the specific areas described within this it. My parents owned a large chunk of the Sunset Strip in the seventies and eighties, so when Easy walked on unsteady legs down the famous block, I could almost feel the pavement move beneath his feet, smell the aromas wafting from the stores and visualize windy drives up darkened canyons. One rarely experiences a truly tangible connection in novels. What was so interesting were the nuances about a time I was not privy to. A time where racial tension was a danger to the health of the community and where drugs were passed around like bibles at a tent revival. It was dark and violent and it drew me into the story instantly, most of which revolves around Easy and his journey toward truth.
Once you get to know Mr. Rawlins, the rest of his motley crew just add to his persona. Mouse, the gangster, Feather his old soul daughter and so many others pepper this elaborate tale with personality. From the back-alley interactions to the genuine love his friends and family have for this troubled P.I.. Now, if you aren’t familiar with Easy and you don’t want to read the rest of the series before tackling this one, you can always check out the movie Devil in a Blue Dress, but it’s unnecessary. This story has its own legs. Mosley is generous and efficient with character introductions and even though I often find it tasking to have to read introductions ad nauseam, he did a wonderful job of weaving the details into conversations and inner thoughts that it never felt forced or inorganic.
In this installment Easy, badly damaged from a horrific accident after his girlfriend leaves him in the previous book, agrees while on his sickbed to help his bad to the bones friend Mouse find a missing boy. Easy’s broken battered body barely makes it up a flight of stairs, let alone his cross county search where he meets some extremely shady characters, but with the help of a mystical type potion, his ailing bones find respite and his task becomes easier. Unfortunately, this “potion” happened to be the one problem I had with this story. It seemed out of place in a fiction rooted firmly in reality. I just didn’t buy the magic-like results. It was a tad bit unrealistic and it felt out of place in this gritty crime drama. But it was a minor role in the bigger, very decorative picture. Overall, Mosley eloquently and with perfect pacing, leads the reader through knotted struggles of will, pushed forward on rocky paths toward healing, both physically and emotionally and I loved it.
FINAL THOUGHTS: If you love those hard-boiled mysteries written with tongue in cheek references and vivid characters, don’t skip Little Green.
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