Blonde Faith (Easy Rawlins Series #10)by Walter Mosley
Easy Rawlins, L.A.'s most reluctant detective, comes home one day to find Easter, the daughter of his friend Chrismas Black, left on his doorstep. Easy knows that this could only mean that the ex-marine Black is probably dead, or will be soon. Easter's appearance is only the beginning, as Easy is immersed in a sea of problems. The love of his life is marrying another man and his friend Mouse is wanted for the murder of a father of 12. As he's searching for a clue to Christmas Black's whereabouts, two suspicious MPs hire him to find his friend Black on behalf of the U.S. Army. Easy's investigation brings him to Faith Laneer, a blonde woman with a dark past. As Easy begins to put the pieces together, he realizes that Black's dissappearance has its roots in Vietnam, and that Faith might be in a world of danger.
The New York Times
Mosley's Easy Rawlins books were always about acquiring property, which was the American dream in post-WWII Los Angeles. But lately Rawlins's expanding family has taken center stage and death has darkened the landscape. "We born dyin.' If it wasn't for death, we'd never draw a breath," says Michael Boatman as an old man who knew Rawlins's grandfather back in Texas. That theme is echoed by several other characters, especially Etta, the wife of Raymond "Mouse" Alexander, Easy's childhood friend and a born killer who has disappeared. Boatman, a veteran narrator of numerous Mosley novels, has a quiet and natural style that perfectly catches the voices of Etta, Rawlins's lover Bonnie and especially Rawlins himself. Boatman's beautifully controlled performance compliments all the rich shadings Mosley gives his private eye, now 18 years older than the optimistic young soldier introduced in Devil in a Blue Dress, who's feeling depressed and adrift in the riot-filled L.A. of 1967. An extremely frightening ending supports Mosley's claim that Easy's 10th mystery may be his last. Simultaneous release with the Little, Brown hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 6). (Oct.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Mosley's tenth installment in his groundbreaking Easy Rawlins series finds the L.A. detective in his usual state-up to his neck in blood, corpses, and, perhaps worse, family tribulations. The story is set in post-Watts riots 1967, and Easy, now 47, is hired to track down two friends: Christmas Black, a former Green Beret who left his adopted Vietnamese child at Easy's house before disappearing, and everyone's favorite sociopath, Raymond "Mouse" Alexander, whom the police are out to kill. But Easy has his own problems. Emotionally volatile after losing his soul mate, Bonnie Shay, Easy is tortured by regret and self-doubt; he's on a collision course with his grief and must either change direction or crash. As he ages, Easy is a man groping for stability in an increasingly unstable world. More than one man's journey, Mosley's Easy Rawlins series is a chronicle of the shifting landscape of race relations from the 1940s to the 1960s and is destined to become part of the American-and not just African American-conscience. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ6/15/07.]
Read an Excerpt
By Walter Mosley
Little, Brown and CompanyCopyright © 2007 Walter Mosley
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIt's hard to get lost when you're coming home from work. When you have a job, and a paycheck, the road is set right out in front of you: a paved highway with no exits except yours. There's the parking lot, the grocery store, the kids' school, the cleaner's, the gas station, and then your front door.
But I hadn't had a regular job in a year and here it was two in the afternoon and I was pulling into my driveway wondering what I was doing there. I cut off the engine and then shuddered, trying to fit inside the sudden stillness.
All morning I had been thinking about Bonnie and what I'd lost when I sent her away. She'd saved my adopted daughter's life, and I had repaid her by making her leave our home.
In order to get little Feather into a Swiss clinic, Bonnie had reacquainted herself with Joguye Cham, a West African prince she had met in her work as a flight attendant for Air France. He made a temporary home for Feather, and Bonnie stayed there with her - and him.
I threw open the car door but didn't get out. Part of my lethargy was exhaustion from being up for the past twenty-four hours.
I didn't have a regular job, but I worked like a dog.
Martel Johnson had hired me to find his runaway sixteen-year-old daughter, Chevette. He'd gone to the police and they had taken down her information, but two weeks had gone by and they hadn't turned up a thing. I told Martel that I'd do the footwork for three hundred dollars. On any other transaction he would have tried to dicker with me, giving me a down payment and promising the balance when and if I did the job. But when a man loves his child he will do anything to have her safely home.
I pocketed the money, spoke to a dozen of Chevette's high school friends, and then made the rounds of various alleys in the general vicinity of Watts.
MOST OF THE TIME I was thinking about Bonnie, about calling her and asking her to come home to me. I missed her milky breath and the spiced teas she brewed. I missed her mild Guyanese accent and our long talks about freedom. I missed everything about her and me, but I couldn't make myself stop at a pay phone.
Where I came from - Fifth Ward, Houston, Texas - another man sleeping with your woman was more than reason enough for justifiable double homicide. Every time I thought of her in his arms my vision sputtered and I had to close my eyes.
My adoptive daughter still saw Bonnie at least once a week. The boy I raised as my son, Jesus, and his common-law wife, Benita Flagg, treated Bonnie as the grandmother of their newborn daughter, Essie.
I loved them all and in turning my back on Bonnie I had lost them.
And so, at 1:30 in the morning, at the mouth of an alley off Avalon, when a buxom young thing in a miniskirt and halter top had come up to my window, I rolled down the glass and asked, "How much to suck my dick?"
"Fifteen dollars, daddy," she said in a voice both sweet and high.
"Um," I stalled. "Up front or after?"
She sucked a tooth and stuck out a hand. I put three new five-dollar bills across her palm, and she hurried around to the passenger side of my late-model Ford. She had dark skin and full cheeks ready to smile for the man with the money.
When I turned toward her I detected a momentary shyness in her eyes, but then she put on a brazen look and said, "Let's see what you got."
"Can I ask you somethin' first?"
"You paid for ten minutes; you can do whatever you want with it."
"Are you happy doing this, Chevette?"
Her years went from thirty to sixteen in one second flat. She reached for the door, but I grabbed her wrist.
"I'm not tryin' to stop you, girl," I said.
"Then let me go."
"You got my money. All I'm askin' is my ten minutes," I said, letting her wrist go.
Chevette settled down after looking at my other hand and around the front seat for signs of danger.
"Okay," she said, staring into the darkness of the floor. "But we stay right here."
I lifted her chin with one finger and gazed into her big eyes until she turned away.
"Martel hired me to find you," I said. "He's all broken up. I told him I'd ask you to come home but I wouldn't drag you there."
The woman-child glanced at me then.
"But I have to tell him where you are ... and about Porky."
"You cain't tell Daddy 'bout him," she pleaded. "One'a them get killed sure."
Porky the Pimp had recruited Chevette three blocks away from Jordan High. He was a pock-faced fat man with a penchant for razors, diamond rings, and women.
"Martel's your father," I reasoned. "He deserves to know what happened with you."
"Porky'll cut him. He'll kill him."
"Or the other way around," I said. "Martel hired me to find you and tell him where you are. That's how I pay my mortgage, girl."
"I could pay you," she suggested, placing a hand on my thigh. "I got seventy-fi'e dollars in my purse. And, and you said you wanted some company."
"No," I said. "I mean ... you are a fine young thing, but I'm honest and a father too."
The teenager's face went blank, but I could see that her mind was racing. My appearance had been a possibility that she'd already considered. Not me exactly but some man who either knew her or wanted to save her. After twenty blow jobs a night for two weeks, she'd have to be thinking about rescue - and about the perils that came along with such an act of desperation. Porky could find her anywhere in Southern California.
"Porky ain't gonna let me go," she said. "He cut up one girl that tried to leave him. Cassandra. He cut up her face."
She put a hand to her cheek. It wasn't a pretty face.
"Oh," I said, "I'm almost sure the pig man will listen to reason."
It was my smile that gave Chevette Johnson hope.
"Where is he?" I asked.
"At the back of the barbershop."
I took the dull gray .38 from the glove compartment and the keys from the ignition.
Cupping my hand around the girl's chin, I said, "You wait right here. I don't wanna have to look for you again."
She nodded into my palm and I went off down the alley.
TALL AND LANKY LaTerry Klegg stood in the doorway of the back porch of Masters and Broad Barber Shop. He looked like a deep brown praying mantis standing in a pool of yellow cream. Klegg had a reputation for being fast and deadly, so I came up on him quickly, slamming the side of my pistol against his jaw.
He went down and I thought of Bonnie for a moment. I wondered, as I looked into the startled face of Porky the Pimp, why she had not called me.
Porky was seated in an old barber's chair that had been moved out on the porch to make room for a newer model, no doubt.
"Who the fuck are you?" the pimp said in a frightened alto voice. He was the color of a pig too, a sickly pinkish brown.
I answered by pressing the barrel of my pistol against his left cheekbone.
"What?" he squeaked.
"Chevette Johnson," I said. "Either you let up or I lay you down right here and now."
I meant it. I was ready to kill him. I wanted to kill him. But even while I stood there on the verge of murder, it came to me that Bonnie would never call. She was too proud and hurt.
"Take her," Porky said.
My finger was constricting on the trigger.
I moved my hand three inches to the right and fired. The bullet only nicked the outer earlobe, but his hearing on that side would never be the same. Porky went down to the floor, holding his head and crying out. I kicked him in his gut and walked back down the way I'd come.
On the way to my car, I passed three women in short skirts and high heels that had come running. They gave me a wide berth, seeing the pistol in my hand.
"SO WHY'D YOU LEAVE HOME LIKE THAT?" I asked Chevette at the all-night hamburger stand on Beverly.
She'd ordered a chili burger and fries. I nursed a cream soda.
"They wouldn't let me do nuthin'," she whined. "Daddy want me to wear long skirts and ponytails. He wouldn't even let me talk to a boy on the phone."
Even in a potato sack you could have seen that Chevette was a woman. It had been a long time since she had been a member of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
I drove her to my office and let her sleep on my new blue sofa while I napped, dreaming of Bonnie, in my office chair.
In the morning I called Martel and told him everything - except that Chevette was listening in.
"What you mean, walkin' the streets?" he asked.
"You know what I mean."
"You still want her back?" I asked.
"Of course I want my baby back."
"No, Marty. I can bring her back, but what you gonna get is a full-grown woman, not no child, not no baby. She gonna need you to let her grow up. She gonna need you to see what she is. 'Cause it won't make a difference her bein' back home if you don't change."
"She my child, Easy," he said with deadly certainty.
"The child is gone, Marty. Woman's all that's left."
He broke down then and so did Chevette. She buried her face in a blue cushion and cried.
I told Martel I'd call him back. We talked three more times before I got all the way through to him. I told him that it wasn't worth it for me to bring her back if he couldn't see her for what she was, if he couldn't love her for what she was.
And all the time, I was thinking about Bonnie. I was thinking that I should call her and beg her to come home.
Excerpted from Blonde Faith by Walter Mosley Copyright © 2007 by Walter Mosley . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Walter Mosley is the author of the acclaimed Easy Rawlins and Fearless Jones series of mysteries, as well as numerous other works of fiction and nonfiction. He has won the Anisfield-Wolf award, a Grammy Award, and in 2004 received a PEN USA lifetime achievement award. He was born in Los Angeles and lives in New York.
- New York, New York
- Date of Birth:
- January 12, 1952
- Place of Birth:
- Los Angeles, California
- B.A., Johnson State College
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Easy Rawlins is back in the tenth book of this series. Walter Mosley entwines a multitude of threads to form an intricate tale. It is 1967, Los Angeles, Easy Rawlins is a certified private investigator. Easy regretted his decision to kick Bonnie Shay out of his home the year before, He still loved her and wanted her to come home but his pride prevented him from calling her now it is too late, she was planning on marrying someone else. However, he is not so torn up that he is not tempted by Tourmaline Goss or Faith Laneer. Christmas Black is a former Marine, a government trained killer. Christmas has disappeared after leaving his adopted, 8 year old, Vietnamese daughter at Easy¿s home he leaves no explanation. Easy suspects the missing man is dead or soon will be. The military is also searching for Black. In his Easy encounters drug dealers and murderers. Raymond ¿Mouse¿ Alexander is Easy¿s oldest friend and considered the area¿s most dangerous man. When Etta Mae begs Easy to find her husband, Easy cannot say no. The police suspect Mouse has murdered Pericles Tarr, the father of twelve. Easy¿s task is to find the man and prove him innocent. Blonde Faith grabs the reader¿s attention by beginning with Easy¿s search for Chevette, a 16 year old runaway. She was working the streets for Porky. Easy won my admiration with the way he interacted with the teen. The talented author interlaced the story of the two missing men and Easy¿s personal life to give the readers a complicated tale. The focus shifts repeatedly from one investigation to the other to thoughts of Bonnie. Blonde Faith is a page-turner, I eagerly read the whole night, unable to stop until I had finished the story. Easy is a complex character, growing and developing throughout this series. Fans of mystery and suspense will not want to miss Blonde Faith . Reviewed by Amelia Emerson for ReviewYourBook.com, 9/07
In post Watts riot Los Angeles, Easy Rawlins knows he must be very careful working as a private investigator as that is against the law for a black man. However, when he comes home he finds eight years old E.D. Black waiting for him. The Vietnamese child says her daddy Christmas dropped her off. Easy fears that his close friend is either in deep trouble or dead. --- Easy plans to find Christmas, but he meets black army Captain Miles and two MPs who also want to find Christmas. The Captain hires Easy on behalf of the military, but by their involvement the sleuth knows whatever is going on ties back to when Christmas served in Viet Nam. Easy follows clues that lead to BLONDE FAITH Laneer, who he believes is in the same trouble as Christmas is. He also cannot turn to friend insane Raymond 'Mouse' Alexander for help as the police have a bounty to kill him. Already upset with his beloved Bonnie Shay planning to marry someone else and feeling all alone and ancient as he nears fifty he doubts his sleuthing skills while struggling to find a way to save Christmas in order for the detective to obtain some redemption and self esteem. --- The latest Easy Rawlins historical mystery is an excellent tale that shows how complex a protagonist the hero is. He has major doubts that he can still do the job and feels guilty over his failed relationship with his soul mate. However, in spite of his anguish and angst, he still must do everything he can to help his buddy. Fans of the series already know how great these novels are whereas newcomers will scramble for the backlist as few if any authors tell the American black saga during the pre, early and late Civil Rights era better than Walter Mosley consistently does. --- Harriet Klausner
Waht? K fine bye
I thought I had read this one. I would have remembered the wrapping up of Easy's life. Putting things in order so to speak, and definitely his demise. Unless some how he survives, I've got to start on another of Mosley's characters (Leonid McGill is next). I've loved all Easy's friends and foes, and to be honest, I'm sorry to see him go. Nothing lasts forever. Thanks WM for a great ride. My suggestions would be to start with the first book Devil in a Blue Dress.
wow this book is aammmasing
Walter Mosley never fails to come through with his engaging characters and plot lines. I love the inner struggles of each character, new and old. Can't wait for the next book in the Fearless Jones series.
I've enjoyed every book I've read by Mosley! I'd recommend all his books- if you like one you'll like them all!
As usual Walter Mosley has not let me down; I am a devoted fan of Easy Rawlins
Mr. Mosley, Please, I'm begging you, you must write another Easy Rawlins book. You are the ONLY mystery/detective writer that I read. I've never been drawn to these types of books until I read yours! I don't have a substitue to get me through, so please, for ALL of your fans write just one more! We have to know what happened. BTW, if you only write one more, make it really really long!
Walter Mosely never fails to deliver an "Easy Rawlins" character-based book that keeps you reading long into the night. The family of characters that spin around the seemingly hardcore Easy are as much loved and anticipated as Easy himself. The reader wonders who's next on Mouse's hit-list and what will the scared, but brillant, Jackson Blue get himself into. Of course we always wonder if Easy will find peace in life and love. Walter Mosely PLEASE, PLEASE write another Easy Rawlins book. Your faithful readers have to be sure...say it ain't so. And if it is what it is, let Mouse give us the news. We've all grown-up in mind and spirit with Easy. We can accept the verdict. PLEASE write and let us know for certain.
I just LOVE the Easy Rawlins series. If you're an Easy Rawlins fan, then Blonde Faith will not disappoint you. Walter, keep 'em coming!
I truly enjoyed this book. Without giving away anything, I have one comment for Mr. Mosley: Nooooooo, please don't let it end like that!!