Rose Gold (Easy Rawlins Series #12)by Walter Mosley
Rose Gold is two colors, one woman, and a big headache.
In this new mystery set in the Patty Hearst era of radical black nationalism and political abductions, a black ex-boxer self-named Uhuru Nolica, the leader of a revolutionary cell called Scorched Earth, has kidnapped Rosemary Goldsmith, the daughter of a weapons manufacturer, from her dorm at UC Santa/b>
Rose Gold is two colors, one woman, and a big headache.
In this new mystery set in the Patty Hearst era of radical black nationalism and political abductions, a black ex-boxer self-named Uhuru Nolica, the leader of a revolutionary cell called Scorched Earth, has kidnapped Rosemary Goldsmith, the daughter of a weapons manufacturer, from her dorm at UC Santa Barbara. If they don't receive the money, weapons, and apology they demand, "Rose Gold" will die—horribly and publicly. So the FBI, the State Department, and the LAPD turn to Easy Rawlins, the one man who can cross the necessary borders to resolve this dangerous standoff. With twelve previous adventures since 1990, Easy Rawlins is one of the small handful of private eyes in contemporary crime fiction who can be called immortal. Rose Gold continues his ongoing and unique achievement in combining the mystery/PI genre form with a rich social history of postwar Los Angeles—and not just the black parts of that sprawling city.
Set in L.A. during the height of the Vietnam War, Mosley’s impressive 13th Easy Rawlins mystery (after 2013’s Little Green) finds Roger Frisk, special assistant to the police chief, calling on Easy with a job. Rosemary Goldsmith, a student at the University of California in Santa Barbara and the daughter of munitions giant Foster Goldsmith, is missing, perhaps kidnapped. Frisk wants Easy to track down black boxer and political activist Robert Mantle, with whom Rosemary was recently seen in Los Angeles. Easy, “the man to go to if they want their finger on the jugular of the colored community,” accepts the carrot and stick offer only to discover that FBI agents and the State Department are also involved. Along the way, Easy’s trademark ability to trade favors has him helping disgraced cop Melvin Suggs, locating a stolen mixed-race child, and solving a marital problem for his pal Jackson Blue. Easy’s experiences and insights perfectly mirror the turbulent ’60s. Agent: Gloria Loomis, Watkins Loomis Agency. (Sept.)
—Los Angeles Times
"When it comes to naming names, Walter Mosley knows no peer. A cop called Frisk, a guru who goes by Vandal, a boxer known as Hardcase Tommy Latour and a black militant with the excellent moniker of Most Grand all figure in Rose Gold, Mosley's endlessly entertaining new Easy Rawlins mystery."
—The New York Times Book Review
"Fans of Mosley's private investigator were grateful Rawlins survived, and for good reason: Mosley's writing gifts go well beyond the gumshoe genre. With Rawlins, he weaves in a tense racial element throughout, and raises the level of his achievement."
"Set in L.A. during the height of the Vietnam War, Mosley’s impressive 13th Easy Rawlins mystery (after 2013’s Little Green) finds Roger Frisk, special assistant to the police chief, calling on Easy with a job... Easy’s experiences and insights perfectly mirror the turbulent ’60s."
—Publishers Weely, starred
"Mosley has few peers when it comes to crafting sentences, and he's woven some beauties into this swift-moving yet philosophical story that does more for illustrating an iconic perioud than hours of documentary film could. This Easy Rawlins novel harks back to the great early days of the series."
"...The most quotable of all contemporary detectives stirs up enough trouble for scene after memorable scene."
Easy Rawlins is tapped by the FBI when a revolutionary cell kidnaps Rosemary Gold, daughter of a weapons manufacturer, and threatens to give her an awful, public death if its demands aren't met. Yes, think Patty Hearst; Easy's 13th outing.
Easy Rawlins, who once spanned years between volumes, takes his third case of 1967. Or rather, his third batch of cases. What are the odds that the LAPD would not only press Easy (Little Green, 2013, etc.) to take a job, but offer to pay him for it? But that's exactly what Roger Frisk, special assistant to the chief of police, does. If Easy will look for international weapons manufacturer Foster Goldsmith's daughter, Rosemary, who's gone missing from UC Santa Barbara, Frisk will pay him $6,000, with a bonus of $2,500 if he actually finds her. Smelling a rat but agreeing to take the case, Easy soon realizes the police are much less interested in Rosemary than in retired boxer Battling Bob Mantle, the companion who may have kidnapped her. Easy is quickly up to his neck in other LAPD officers, FBI agents and State Department officials, united only in their demand that he drop the case on security grounds. In the course of his investigations, Easy incurs numerous debts that he can pay off only by working other jobs. His trusted police contact, Detective Melvin Suggs, wants Easy to find Mary Donovan, who passed counterfeit money and stole Suggs' heart. His ex-lover EttaMae Alexander's white friend Alana Altman wants Easy to find her boy Alton, who she suspects may have been kidnapped by her late husband's African-American relatives. Local crime lord Art Sugar suggests that Easy pass everything he learns about Bob Mantle on to him first. You have to feel bad for underemployed UCLA MBA Percy Bidwell, who insists that Easy introduce him to investment banker Jason Middleton but doesn't have anything to trade for the favor. Along the way to the untidy resolution, the most quotable of all contemporary detectives ("I knew I was in trouble because I was being told a fairy tale by a cop") stirs up enough trouble for scene after memorable scene. Mosley may not write great endings, but it's hard to top his middles.
Read an Excerpt
Back then, Moving Day in L.A. was a phantom holiday that occurred, for many Angelenos, every other month or so. In the 1950s and ’60s, when the rent was dirt cheap, people moved to be closer to a new job, away from an old lover, or when it seemed that a fundamental change of life was in order. Sometimes the person moving would not only change the numbers on his or her door but also the name on the mailbox, the used car in the driveway, and even the style of clothes they donned to walk out and meet the day.
Now and then the move was not merely aesthetic or convenient but necessary; like when a bill collector, lawyer, or the law itself was hot on the temporary tenant’s trail. At a time like this the migrant leaseholder would make sure that the new domicile was inside the border of a different unincorporated town or municipality of L.A. County. That way the law offered few systems to track his whereabouts. A man could actually avoid dunning or even arrest by merely moving across the street.
In the case of a necessary move, the rental émigré would load up a truck in the middle of the night and go with no fanfare, or notice to the landlord.
This was not the case with my midmorning migration.
My daughter and I were moving, that Sunday, from Genesee at Pico to Point View just a few houses north of Airdrome; not more than eleven blocks. This was a necessary move that was not due to any legal or monetary bureaucracy.
Five months or so earlier I had almost died. At that time I had been involved in a case that put my home in jeopardy, and so I had sent my daughter to stay with her brother at a friend’s place, temporarily. I resolved the case but then drove my car off the side of a coastal mountain. Whether this accident was due to a subconscious death wish or just bad luck is uncertain, but I was in what the doctors called a semicoma for the better part of two months.
During that time a squatter named Jeffrey had taken possession of the empty house on Genesee. With the help of my friend Raymond Alexander, Jeff was put out. This was not a gentle eviction and I worried that Feather, my adopted daughter, might one day be home alone when the squatter returned for revenge.
And so I sold the Genesee house and bought a new, larger place on Point View. I might have ranged farther but that September, Feather was going to enter the seventh grade at Louis Pasteur Junior High and the new address was just a block away from there.
And so some friends—LaMarque Alexander (Raymond’s son), Jesus (my adopted boy, now a young man), Jackson Blue and his wife’s associate Percy Bidwell—helped Feather and me load our belongings into a rented truck and drive it over to the new door.
I would have hired a moving company but recently, within the last week, the city had seen fit to inspect all five of the rental properties I owned and demanded I fix structural problems, perform a termite-extermination, and in one place they even required that I install a new heating system. It would take every cent I had, and then some, to pay for the improvements, so I rented a truck from my old pal Primo and called on my friends to lend a hand with the move.
Feather set herself up in the entranceway of the rare two-story residence and directed the men where to deposit the bureaus, tables, beds, boxes, and chairs. My daughter had light brown hair and skin. She was tall for twelve and lean, not to say thin. She was becoming an accomplished long-distance runner as her brother, Jesus, had been, and was fluent in three languages already. Neither she nor her brother had one drop of blood in common with me, or each other, but they were my kids and we were family.
“Uncle Jackson,” Feather said from the front hall, “that little table goes in Daddy’s room upstairs. He uses it for his desk.”
“Upstairs?” Jackson exclaimed. He was around my age, mid-forties, short, jet black, and skinny as a sapling tree. “Girl, this table might look little but the wood is dense, and heavy.”
“I’ll help, Uncle J,” Jesus said. My boy was pure Mexican Indian. He was no taller than Jackson Blue but his years of working his own small fishing boat had made him strong.
Jesus got behind the table, taking most of the weight, and Jackson groaned piteously as he guided it up the stairs.
“This is a really nice house you got here, Mr. Rawlins,” Percy Bidwell said.
He was almost my height, a brassy brown, and good-looking. His hair had been processed into tight curls. I always distrusted men who processed their hair. This was a prejudice that I realized was not necessarily justified.
“Thank you, Percy. I like it.”
“Jewelle said that you haven’t moved in years. I guess this house was just too good to pass up. Must’ve cost quite a bit for a place this big in this neighborhood.”
I also didn’t like people asking about my business. Percy was racking up the negative points on my friendship register.
“Do you work for Jewelle?” I asked.
“No.” He seemed almost insulted by the question.
Jewelle MacDonald had come from a real estate family and on her own had amassed an empire of apartment buildings and commercial properties. She was even part-owner of a major international hotel that was being constructed in downtown L.A. Jewelle was barely out of her twenties and married to the onetime roustabout, now computer expert Jackson Blue. It was no insult to ask if Bidwell worked for her. She had sent him to help Jackson, after all.
“Jewelle told me that if I wanted to get in contact with Jason Middleton,” Percy said, “that you were the one who would do that for me.”
His sentence structure told me that he thought that I was somehow under the direction of Jewelle; that all he had to do was mention that she had asked for something and I would make that something happen.
I turned away from him and called, “LaMarque!”
“Yes, Mr. Rawlins?”
The lanky twenty-two-year-old loped from the truck to my side.
“Where’s your father?”
“He had to go back east on business.”
Business for Raymond, more commonly known as Mouse, was high-end heists with the strong possibility of brutality and bloodshed.
“So he sent you to take his place?” I asked. I could feel Percy Bidwell starring daggers at my back.
“Mama did. When you called to ask for Dad to help, she send me.”
“How long you been back from Texas?”
“You outta all that trouble now?”
“I ain’t in no gang no more,” he said, looking down a little sheepishly.
EttaMae, LaMarque’s mother and Raymond’s wife, had sent the young man down to Texas to work on her brother’s farm for a while. She did that to save the lives of the gang members who had tried to claim him as one of their own. Raymond would have killed them all if she hadn’t interfered.
A car pulled up to the curb just then. It was a dark Ford with four male passengers. Most cars in Southern California transported a solitary driver, a couple, a double date, or a family. Four men in a car most likely spelled trouble if there wasn’t a construction site somewhere in the vicinity.
“Well,” I said to LaMarque while watching the men confer, “you get back to work and I’ll give you twenty dollars to go home with.”
“Yes, sir,” he said. Etta had taught the boy his manners.
LaMarque ducked his head and ran back to the truck.
“Mr. Rawlins,” Percy Bidwell said.
“Yeah, Percy?” I was watching the men as they prepared to disembark.
“About Mr. Middleton.”
“What is it you want with Jason?”
“That’s private,” the young man said.
“Then you better just call him up yourself and leave me out of it.”
“I don’t know him.”
“And I don’t know you.”
“Jewelle told me to tell you to call him.”
“You don’t tell me what to do, son, and neither does Jewelle.”
The four men were out of the car by then. They were all white men, tall, and burly. Three of them wore off-the-rack suits of various dark hues. The eldest, maybe fifty years of age, was dressed in a dark-colored, tailored ensemble that was possibly even silk.
The leader began the stroll up the slight incline of my lawn.
“Easy,” Jackson warned from an upstairs window.
“I see ’em, Blue.”
“Is it all right?”
“I hope so.”
“Mr. Rawlins,” Percy was saying, trying once again to impress his will upon me.
“Either get back to work or go home, Percy,” I said. “I got other things on my mind right now.”
Meet the Author
WALTER MOSLEY is the author of more than forty-two books, most notably twelve Easy Rawlins mysteries, the first of which, Devil in a Blue Dress, was made into an acclaimed film starring Denzel Washington. Always Outnumbered was an HBO film starring Laurence Fishburne, adapted from his first Socrates Fortlow novel. He is the winner of numerous awards, including an O. Henry Award, a Grammy Award, and PEN America's Lifetime Achievement Award. A Los Angeles native and graduate of Goddard College, he holds an MFA from CCNY and now lives in Brooklyn, 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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Walter Mosley is one of the best. He once again brings me into Easy's world. I always feel that I'm coming back to see old friends during a time in California that I've only heard about but never experienced first hand. Keep the books coming Mr. Mosley!
I have read everyone of Mr Mosley's books and have never been disappointed, Easy is so easy to love and root for, yet he is complex. I have enjoyed yet another adventure into the history of Afican American life as well as the compelling life adventures of one of my favorite characters!
Highly recommend any of Walter Mosley's books.
This newest novel from the prolific Walter Mosley (whose next novel, in the Leonid McGill series, “And Sometimes I Wonder About You,” is due out in May) brings the return of private detective Ezekiel Porterhouse (“Easy”) Rawlins. The last novel in the series was nearly two years ago, the highly acclaimed “Little Green,” which in turn was preceded six years prior to that by “Blonde Faith,” which seemingly ended with Easy’s demise in a car accident when he’d lost control of a car he was driving on the Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu. This book takes place five months later. The novel is set in post-war Los Angeles, an era of radical black nationalism, where “innocence was rarely a key factor for justice,” eerily also reflecting today’s recurring headlines of black men generally guilty of nothing more than walking/driving/whatever while black, shot by white police officers. And I can’t think of another author today who can capture this quite like Mr. Mosley. Now nearing 50, Easy, a black man with a sixth grade education, had moved from New Orleans to LA in the late forties, and in the opening pages is moving into a new home with his 12-year-old adopted daughter, Feather, and his adopted son, Jesus. Among the usual cast of characters present is Easy’s “oldest and deadliest friend,” Raymond “Mouse” Alexander, computer expert Jackson Blue and his wife, Jewelle, and Melvin Suggs (a white man and the only LA cop Easy trusts, describing the LA PD as “morally bankrupt”). Easy is approached by the special assistant to the Chief of Police who offers to pay handsomely if Easy will take on a missing person’s case, leaving Easy briefly speechless: “No policeman had ever offered me money - - and I had been stopped, rousted, beaten, and caged by a thousand cops in my years on and near the street.” A kidnapping is suspected, since the missing young woman, Rosemary Goldsmith (who Easy comes to think of as the titular Rose Gold), missing from her dorm at UC Santa Barbara for two weeks, is the daughter of a very wealthy weapons manufacturer and philanthropist. But nothing in a Walter Mosley novel is as simple as it seems, and never more so than here. The book combines Easy’s philosophizing with a quiet humor, has an intricate and somewhat convoluted plot, and houses a large (at times unwieldy) cast of characters.
Good story. Ending was little jumbled and seemed rushed to tie up loose ends. Still enjoyable.
Sure I would.
Meet me at the book that replaced our old one.
xD xD xD