Fear Itself (Fearless Jones Series #2)

Fear Itself (Fearless Jones Series #2)

4.5 10
by Walter Mosley
     
 

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Another tensely plotted, action-filled thriller from the bestselling writer hailed by the Chicago Sun-Times for �detective fiction at its best � bold, breathtaking, and brutal.�See more details below

Overview

Another tensely plotted, action-filled thriller from the bestselling writer hailed by the Chicago Sun-Times for �detective fiction at its best � bold, breathtaking, and brutal.�

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
It's a tossup which gives more pleasure in Mosley's vibrant views of neighborhood life, the high-stepping, free-talking characters who bob and weave their way through this convoluted plot, or the colorful local haunts like Henrietta's Gumbo House where they do their shuckin' and jivin'. — Marilyn Stasio
The Los Angeles Times
We've seen pictures of black and white, even brown and white Los Angeles from the '40s and '50s, but seldom from the inside out. In Fear Itself, Mosley taps into this world and shows us a city where opportunity is less than it seems and violence a measure of frustration. The sad thing is it's a picture of a city not unlike Los Angeles today. — Thomas Curwen
The Washington Post
With the publication of Devil in a Blue Dress in 1990, Mosley became one of the United States' best-known crime novelists. Few would have complained if he had chosen to write exclusively about Easy Rawlings, the cautious fixer he introduced in Devil. But Mosley is a restless, inquisitive writer. He has refused to be confined to one genre, much less one character. He has written science fiction, nonfiction and a well-regarded literary novel, RL's Dream. Paris Minton is his third protagonist within the crime genre, and while Paris has some obvious parallels to Easy, he is very much his own man. — Laura Lippman
Publishers Weekly
In this eagerly anticipated follow-up to Fearless Jones (2001), Watts bookstore owner Paris Minton and the dangerous but principled Fearless Jones tread the familiar territory mapped so successfully by Mosley's original detecting duo, Easy Rawlins and Raymond "Mouse" Alexander. The author depicts 1950s Los Angeles with his usual unerring accuracy, but a somewhat different dynamic drives his heroes. When Fearless drags the reluctant Paris into helping him look for Kit Mitchell (aka the Watermelon Man), their quest turns quickly murderous. Timid bookworm Paris gets caught in a deadly game of hide-and-seek whose players deal in lead, money and lies and include members of the fractured and fractious family of millionaire black businesswoman Winifred L. Fine. Neither Fearless nor Paris is sure who or what the various seekers are after-the missing Mitchell, a fabulous emerald pendant or a family diary-only that it's valued more than the lives lost trying to find it. A desire to aid his friend Fearless initially motivates Paris, but his journey becomes a voyage of self-discovery. While Paris possesses a narrative voice that's more literate and middle-class than that of the street-smart Easy, it should still resonate with Mosley's legions of fans. (July 2) FYI: Mosley's most recent Easy Rawlings novel is Bad Boy Brawly Brown (Forecasts, June 17, 2002). Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This is the greatly anticipated sequel to Mosley's Fearless Jones, which pairs up the dangerous but principled Fearless with his small, cowardly, bookstore-owning friend Paris Minton in the same 1950s Los Angeles that the author mines so brilliantly in his Easy Rawlins series. In Fear Itself, Fearless and Paris are introduced to the unfamiliar world of the black bourgeoisie, searching first for a missing man, then a missing emerald pendant, and finally a priceless heirloom book. Mosley's most distinctive gift is portraying the nuances and subtleties of character and dialog as the men cope with living black in the white world. Accomplished film and television actor Don Cheadle embarks on a new career as audiobook reader with the perfect tone and style to match the material. Highly recommended.-Kristen L. Smith, Loras Coll. Lib., Dubuque, IA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins has accomplished many of his goals through hard work and perseverance, and in spite of being a black man in a white-dominated world. When Alva Torres needs help to locate her son, Brawly, Easy gladly steps in as unofficial private eye. The young man turns out to be mixed up with a radical political group, and Easy tries to find a way to ease Brawly and himself out of the mess. After two men are murdered and the police search for everyone with a connection to either death, Easy comes up with a violent answer that saves Brawly's life and covers his own tracks. Mosley weaves together the racial tensions felt in 1964 Los Angeles with the complex threads of Easy's life. Rawlins's multilayered personality and history provide the character's mental and physical drive, which in turn drives the plot. Supporting characters bring their own depth and substance and give readers additional insight into the period. A fine balance of historical fiction, murder mystery, and character study, this novel offers action and a lot of thoughtful material.-Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Inoffensive bookseller Paris Minton's friend Fearless Jones drags him from the safety of his shop into more trouble-big, big trouble-in 1955 Watts. Leora Hartman wants Fearless to track down his own employer, watermelon salesman Kit Mitchell, the father of her son, who's left his home with no forwarding address. But the inquiries Fearless enlists Paris to make are complicated by three dangers. First, Kit's vanishing act is only the beginning of a case that will feature the disappearance of some much more important people and claim Kit's life along with those of a brother and sister killed in separate but equally grisly incidents. Second, Paris and Fearless will soon be playing out of their league, caught in the crossfire between two of LA's heaviest hitters-cosmetics queen Winifred L. Fine and crafty developer Maestro Wexler-and inevitably attracting the less-than-cordial interest of the LAPD. Third, all the parties Paris talks to, from Leora Hartman to Winifred L. Fine, lie to protect their own interests, turn his quest to their advantage, or hide their involvement in a chain of violence and betrayal that stretches all the way back to a priceless Fine family diary begun by a slave 300 years ago. Paris (Fearless Jones, 2001) ends by wrapping up a mystery with perhaps a dozen too many tangles, accepting himself as a killer, and guaranteeing that no matter how well he succeeds in his errands to the powerful and fearsome, he'll never get rich. Agent: Gloria Loomis/Watkins Loomis Agency

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786255887
Publisher:
Gale Group
Publication date:
08/28/2003
Series:
Fearless Jones Series, #2
Edition description:
Large Print
Pages:
440
Product dimensions:
5.42(w) x 8.88(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Fear Itself


By Walter Mosley

Little, Brown and Company

Copyright © 2003 Walter Mosley
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0316591122


Chapter One

A SUDDEN BANGING ON THE FRONT DOOR sent a chill down my neck and into my chest. It was two thirty-nine in the morning. I was up and out of my bed immediately, though still more than half asleep.

I had to go to the bathroom but the knocking was insistent; seven quick raps, then a pause, and then seven more. It reminded me of something but I was too confused to remember what.

"All right," I called out.

I considered staying quiet until the unwanted visitor gave up and left. But what if it was a thief? Maybe he was knocking to see if there was anybody home. If I stayed quiet he might just break the two-dollar lock and come in on me. I'm a small man, so even if he was just your run-of-the-mill sneak thief he might have broken my neck before realizing that Paris Minton's Florence Avenue Book Shop didn't have any money in the cash box.

I slept in an illegal loft space above the bookstore. It was the only way my little business could stay in the black. Selling used books doesn't have a very high profit margin, except for the reading pleasure. Some days the only customers brought in books to sell or barter. Other days I was the only patron, reading Don Quixote, Their Eyes Were Watching God, or some other great novel from sunup to sundown.

Mostly I sold westerns and mysteries and romances. But I rarely read those books. The women's genre wasn't written for a man's sensibilities and popular men's books were too violent.

"Let me in there, Paris," a voice I knew better than any other called out.

"Fearless?"

"Yeah, man. Let me in."

I hesitated a moment and a moment more.

"Paris."

I opened the door and Fearless Jones strode in, wearing a green suit with a white shirt, no tie, no hat, and dark shoes. The tip of the baby finger on his left hand was missing, shot off in a gunfight that almost got us both killed, and he had the slightest limp from a knife wound he'd received saving my life in San Francisco many years before.

Fearless was tall and dark, thin and handsome, but mostly he was powerful. He was stronger than any man I'd ever known, and his will was indomitable. Fearless wasn't a smart man. A twelve-year-old might have been a better reader, but if he ever looked into your eyes he would know more about your character than any psychiatrist, detective, or priest.

"I'm in trouble, Paris," we said together.

Fearless grinned but I didn't.

"I got to go to the toilet," I said.

I walked back through one of the two aisles of bookshelves that made up my store. Fearless followed me into the toilet, unashamed and still talking while I relieved myself in the commode.

"It was a woman named Leora Hartman," he was saying. "She came up to me at the Soul Food Shack."

"Yeah?" I said. "What about her?"

"You know her?" Fearless asked.

"No."

"Oh," he said on a sigh, and I knew I was in deep trouble.

Fearless never hesitated unless he knew that he was going to cause problems for someone he cared for. And that someone was almost always me.

I was washing my hands by the time he said, "She's a good-lookin' woman-Leora. And that little boy was so cute."

"What little boy?"

"She said his name was Son. That's what she said. But come to think of it, that must'a been his name, because even though I think he was part of a tall tale, he was just a child and a child don't know how to lie about his name."

We walked back to the front room of the bookshop. The space up there was furnished with a card table that had three chairs and a sofa built for two. I sat in one of the wood chairs.

"Leora is a pretty woman," Fearless said, following in my wake like a bullet coming after a moth. "Talked like she had some education, you know? And she was refined."

"What you mean by that?" I asked. I had learned over the years that even though Fearless and I spoke the same tongue his limited use of language was often more subtle than my own.

"I don't know really," he said with a frown. "She looked like just a regular girl, but there was somethin' that set her apart too. That's why, that's why I didn't think it would hurt to help her out."

"Fearless, what are you talking about?"

"Leora come up to me with this cryin' three-year-old boy named Son. She told me that his father had left her and that her and Son was in the street on account'a he done taken all her savings with 'im."

"She picked you outta the blue?"

"She said that Son's father is a man named Kit Mitchell. Kit's a farmer from Wayne, Texas. I been workin' for him the last month or so."

"The Watermelon Man?"

"That's him."

Fearless and I received thirteen thousand dollars apiece after we were involved in the shootout that maimed his baby finger. With my money I bought and refurbished a building that had been a barber's shop. When I was through I had a new used book store. I also bought a used Ford sedan and put a few hundred dollars in the bank with a solid two percent interest rate.

Fearless got houses for his sister and mother at thirty-five hundred dollars a go, bought a fancy car, and spent the rest on a good time that lasted about three months. After that he sold his car to pay the rent and took on a job for a man selling counterfeit Texas watermelons. Counterfeit, inasmuch as they came from the seeds of the green-and-white-striped Texas variety of melon but they were grown in Oxnard on the leased farm of a man I only knew by the title of the Watermelon Man.

The Watermelon Man hired Fearless to harvest his melons and put them on trucks that he had fitted with Texas license plates. Then he would send his fleet of six trucks into Watts, where they would sell the giant fruit on street corners, telling everybody that they were getting genuine Texas melons. Texans believe that the best food in the world is from down home, and so they spent the extra nickel for this prime commodity.

"So the woman was the Watermelon Man's wife?" I asked.

"That's what she said. She was his wife and the boy was his son. The whole time we talked, Son was cryin' that he wanted his daddy. You know he cried so hard that it almost broke my heart."

"When did you meet her?" I asked.

"I just told you-the other day."

"You never saw her with this Kit?"

"Uh-uh. I didn't even know that he was married."

"So then how'd you know that she really was his wife?" I asked, wondering at the endless gullibility of the deadliest man in L.A.

"Why she wanna lie to me?" Fearless replied. "I didn't even know the lady."

"Maybe because she wanted to find Kit for some other reason," I suggested. "Maybe he owed somebody some money, maybe he's in a jam."

"Yeah." Fearless ducked his head. "Yeah, you right, Paris. Maybe so. But when I saw her and heard that boy cryin', I was just so sure that she was the one in trouble."

"And she wanted you to bring her man back?" I asked, worrying about what my deadly friend might have done.

"No," Fearless said. "All she wanted was to know if I knew where to find him."

"And did you?"

"No. That's why I believed her story."

That was when I should have stood up and shown Fearless the door. I should have said, No more, brother. I have to get back to sleep. That's because I knew whatever it was he saw in her story was going to bite me on the backside before we were through.

"Why?" I asked beyond all reason.

"Because Kit hadn't shown up to work at the gardens on Monday. He wasn't there Tuesday neither. His drivers all came but he never showed. I wasn't surprised. The last couple'a days out there he kept talkin' about some big deal he had and how he was gonna make a whole room full'a money."

"Doing what?"

Fearless shook his head.

"Did anybody call him after he didn't show up?" I asked.

"Nobody knew his number. And we really didn't need him. You know I was the one loaded the trucks anyway. And I never liked the fact that he was pawnin' off those melons like they was real Texas. When he didn't come in on Wednesday I called it quits."

"And when did Leora come to you?"

"Day before yesterday."

It was Monday morning, so I asked, "Saturday?"

"No ... I mean yeah."

"You want some coffee, Fearless?"

He smiled then, because coffee was the signal that meant I was going to hear him out.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Fear Itself by Walter Mosley Copyright © 2003 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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