A Red Death (Easy Rawlins Series #2)

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Overview

It's 1953, a time when Red-baiting was official policy, and racial tensions boiled. Easy Rawlins is in deep trouble. A corrupt, racist IRS agent is breathing down his neck about some unpaid taxes. His only out: cut a deal with the FBI to infiltrate the First African Baptist Church and spy on a former World War II resistance fighter suspected of stealing some top secret government plans.

But the IRS isn't Easy's only problem. His life becomes even more complicated and dangerous ...

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A Red Death (Easy Rawlins Series #2)

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Overview

It's 1953, a time when Red-baiting was official policy, and racial tensions boiled. Easy Rawlins is in deep trouble. A corrupt, racist IRS agent is breathing down his neck about some unpaid taxes. His only out: cut a deal with the FBI to infiltrate the First African Baptist Church and spy on a former World War II resistance fighter suspected of stealing some top secret government plans.

But the IRS isn't Easy's only problem. His life becomes even more complicated and dangerous when his old flame EttaMae Harris shows up with her murderous husband, Easy's best friend, Raymond "Mouse" Alexander, hard on her heels. And then killings begin, and Easy finds himself playing the role of betrayed and betrayer - and the prime suspect.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This is the second novel in Mosley's superb series featuring Easy Rawlins, a black private investigator living in 1950s Los Angeles. In July Norton will publish White Butterfly , a third Mosley mystery starring Rawlins, which received a starred review in PW (Fiction Forecasts, May 4).
New York Newsday

The thriller or detective story, raised to a higher level...action, suspense, a well-crafted plot...fast-moving [and] enjoyable.

The Indianapolis News

This is a master at work: we would be well advised to seek everything Walter Mosley writes.

Mirabella

A Red Death is a straightforward, cleanly nasty treat. The writing is funky and knowing, with a no-fools cast.

Los Angeles Times Book Review

Mosley...is here to stay and not to be missed.

Library Journal
A Red Death confirms just how ambitious Mosley's acclaimed Easy Rawlins series (e.g, Devil in a Blue Dress, Audio Reviews, LJ 9/15/94) means to be. The tale presents a social history of black life in Watts over the course of several decades via the conventions of the hard-boiled private eye novel. The early 1950s finds Rawlins working as a janitor in buildings he secretly owns. When the IRS nabs him for tax evasion, his only way out is to cooperate with the FBI in bringing down a leftist Jewish man who is organizing through black churches. Worse yet, Etta Mae Harris has left Easy's deadly friend Mouse and seems finally ready to reciprocate Easy's long-time passion for her, placing his life in jeopardy from Mouse. Reader Stanley Bennett Clay has a great time with the many character voices and gives a fine reading. Highly recommended.-John Hiett, Iowa City P.L
Library Journal
A Red Death confirms just how ambitious Mosley's acclaimed Easy Rawlins series (e.g, Devil in a Blue Dress, Audio Reviews, LJ 9/15/94) means to be. The tale presents a social history of black life in Watts over the course of several decades via the conventions of the hard-boiled private eye novel. The early 1950s finds Rawlins working as a janitor in buildings he secretly owns. When the IRS nabs him for tax evasion, his only way out is to cooperate with the FBI in bringing down a leftist Jewish man who is organizing through black churches. Worse yet, Etta Mae Harris has left Easy's deadly friend Mouse and seems finally ready to reciprocate Easy's long-time passion for her, placing his life in jeopardy from Mouse. Reader Stanley Bennett Clay has a great time with the many character voices and gives a fine reading. Highly recommended.-John Hiett, Iowa City P.L
Wall Street Journal
Fascinating and vividly rendered...exotic and believable, filled with memorable individuals and morally complex situations.
San Francisco Chronicle
No other American writer...has successfully managed to mold the detective form into a historical serial of this sort, and one can only admire the fision behind the adventure.
Detroit News/Free Press
Mosley's skills are, in a word, prodigious.
Kirkus Reviews
Watts, 1953. Easy Rawlins, fresh from his Edgar-nominated debut (Devil in a Blue Dress), reluctantly agrees to spy on Communist union- organizer Chaim Wenzler for Red-baiting FBI agent Darryl Craxton in order to get IRS agent Reginald Lawrence—hot on his trail for back taxes on his off-the-books apartment buildings _ off his back. But nobody (as Easy knows all too well) ever gets off a black man's back; and long before Poinsettia Jackson, one of Easy's hard-case tenants, is found hanging from a strap in the apartment she's stopped paying for and before Chaim Wenzler7#39;s work leads Easy to the African Migration movement, the First African Church, and Reverend Towne and Tania Lee are shot in flagrante delictinevitably to be followed by Wenzler himself—Easy realizes that the two federal men are playing him off against each other. Who pulled the trigger on Wenzler and the others? As in Devil in a Blue Dress, Mosley's plot is so tangled it hardly matters. But the laconic poetry of Easy's voice floats through a central situation much more original and compelling than before. This time Mosley earns the acclaim his first novel received.
From the Publisher
New York Newsday The thriller or detective story, raised to a higher level...action, suspense, a well-crafted plot...fast-moving [and] enjoyable.

The Indianapolis News This is a master at work: we would be well advised to seek everything Walter Mosley writes.

Mirabella A Red Death is a straightforward, cleanly nasty treat. The writing is funky and knowing, with a no-fools cast.

Los Angeles Times Book Review Mosley...is here to stay and not to be missed.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559277198
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio
  • Publication date: 7/1/1902
  • Series: Easy Rawlins Series , #2
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.08 (w) x 6.24 (h) x 1.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Walter Mosley is the author of four previous mystery novels in the Easy Rawlins series: Devil in a Blue Dress (basis for the acclaimed film starring Denzel Washington), A Red Death, White Butterfly, and Black Betty, a New York Times bestseller. In August 1995 he published his first non-genre novel, RL's Dream, to widespread praise. Mosley is the current president of the Mystery Writers of America, a member of the executive board of the PEN American Center and founder of its Open Book Committee, and is on the board of directors of the National Book Awards. His novels are now published in eighteen countries. He is at work on a book featuring a new character, a philosophical and tough ex-convict named Socrates Fortlow; sections have already appeared in Esquire and GQ. A native of Los Angeles, Mosley lives in New York City.

Biography

When President Bill Clinton announced that Walter Mosley was one of his favorite writers, Black Betty (1994), Mosley's third detective novel featuring African American P.I. Easy Rawlins, soared up the bestseller lists. It's little wonder Clinton is a fan: Mosley's writing, an edgy, atmospheric blend of literary and pulp fiction, is like nobody else's. Some of his books are detective fiction, some are sci-fi, and all defy easy categorization.

Mosley was born in Los Angeles, traveled east to college, and found his way into writing fiction by way of working as a computer programmer, caterer, and potter. His first Easy Rawlins book, Gone Fishin' didn't find a publisher, but the next, Devil in a Blue Dress (1990) most certainly did -- and the world was introduced to a startlingly different P.I.

Part of the success of the Easy Rawlins series is Mosley's gift for character development. Easy, who stumbles into detective work after being laid off by the aircraft industry, ages in real time in the novels, marries, and experiences believable financial troubles and successes. In addition, Mosley's ability to evoke atmosphere -- the dangers and complexities of life in the toughest neighborhoods of Los Angeles -- truly shines. His treatment of historic detail (the Rawlins books take place in Los Angeles from the 1940s to the mid-1960s) is impeccable, his dialogue fine-tuned and dead-on.

In 2002, Mosley introduced a new series featuring Fearless Jones, an Army vet with a rigid moral compass, and his friend, a used-bookstore owner named Paris Minton. The series is set in the black neighborhoods of 1950s L.A. and captures the racial climate of the times. Mosley himself summed up the first book, 2002's Fearless Jones, as "comic noir with a fringe of social realism."

Despite the success of his bestselling crime series, Mosley is a writer who resolutely resists pigeonholing. He regularly pens literary fiction, short stories, essays, and sci-fi novels, and he has made bold forays into erotica, YA fiction, and political polemic. "I didn't start off being a mystery writer," he said in an interview with NPR. "There's many things that I am." Fans of this talented, genre-bending author could not agree more!

Good To Know

Mosley won a Grammy award in 2002 in the category of "Best Album Notes" for Richard Pryor.... And It's Deep, Too! The Complete Warner Bros. Recordings (1968-1992).

Mosley is an avid potter in his spare time.

In our 2004 interview, Mosley reveals:

"I was a computer programmer for 15 years before publishing my first book. I am an avid collector of comic books. And I believe that war is rarely the answer, especially not for its innocent victims."

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 12, 1952
    2. Place of Birth:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Education:
      B.A., Johnson State College
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

It's 1953 in Red-baiting, blacklisting Los Angeles, a moral tar pit ready to swallow Easy Rawlins. Easy is out of "the hurting business" and into the housing (and favor) business when a racist IRS agent nails him for tax evasion. Special Agent Darryl T. Craxton, FBI, offers to bail him out if he agrees to infiltrate the First American Baptist Church and spy on alleged communist organizer Chaim Wenzler. That's when the murders begin....

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2003

    A Red Death is to Die For

    I am an aspiring writer and I must confirm that, 'A Red Death,' has inspired me to continue in my journey as a writer. The characters, the plot, as well as the aroma of the story has an urban symphony feel to it. A brilliant piece of work, indeed! I therefore tip my hat in favor to Mr. Walter Mosley for such a classic piece of writing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 9, 2011

    Would have been better without the short story...

    Loved Devil in a Blue Dress so I decided to buy the 2nd book in the series. A Red Death was not as good as Devil in a Blue Dress but I still enjoyed it... but I think a lot to do with that is the short story spoiled A Red Death along with probably a few other books in the series. Seeing as the short story takes place years after A Red Death it tells you what main characters have died throughout the series as well as a few other plot points I would rather have not known. And worst of all, it doesn't give the ending of the short story, so there's not even that payoff. Ridiculous.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2006

    Post-WWII Detective Noir

    With his Easy Rawlins series (of which A Red Death is book number two), author Mosley treads the familiar noir-detective genre in post-WWII Los Angeles. The twist is that most of the main characters, like Mosley, are African-American, which provides a welcome fresh perspective. Populated with interesting characters and head-popping plot twists, the book is short and sweet (about 245 pages). Some of the detective work requires leaps of logic and faith, and some of the characters are a bit too pat at times, but Mosley's effort is still far ahead of most of the Mystery Fiction pack. Recommended for detective fiction fans, or anyone who appreciates a good mystery.

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    Posted June 27, 2013

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    Posted April 16, 2010

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    Posted April 28, 2011

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    Posted October 30, 2008

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    Posted June 29, 2011

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    Posted May 28, 2009

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