The Barnes & Noble Review
Walter Mosley returns to the the turbulent, conflicted energies of 1960s Los Angeles with an Easy Rawlins mystery that's a direct sequel to his 1995 A Little Yellow Dog.
Asked for a favor by his longtime friend John, Easy hits the streets to make the kind of moves only he knows how to make. He's looking for John's stepson, Brawly Brown, a youthful giant who's mixed up with a radical black-power group, the Urban Revolutionary Party. Easy has barely started on his hunt when he discovers the corpse of Brawly's father and finds himself entangled in murder, politics, and a secret police spy network that monitors black extremists. Along with these troubles, Easy suffers from bouts of guilt involving the death of his best friend, the stone killer Mouse -- who, it turns out, may still be alive.
Mosley emphasizes sentiment and thoroughly details black culture, underscoring a harsh existence with scenes of abrupt violence. He remains in excellent form, conveying raw emotion through the medium of a taut plot. As always with his writing, the highest points come when he deals with the intricacy of race relations or the conflicted nature of his ever-evolving, most popular character: Easy has spent his life fighting to escape poverty and bloodshed, but even as he achieves his middle-class dreams he's perpetually drawn back to the terrors of the ghetto. The contradictions of such a man are matched by the complexity of the tumultuous L.A. landscape, and those emotional and historical resonances keep readers deeply engaged in the story.
With Bad Boy Brawly Brown, Walter Mosley again proves that his greatest ability is to fully realize the distressing but commonplace nature of despair, remorse, brutality, and the beauty found even in the fiercest of lives. This is yet another gripping and poignant work from one of America's most talented authors. (Tom Piccirilli)
Ending a seven-year break from Easy Rawlins, Mosley resumes the popular series by plunging his streetwise hero into the political turbulence of 1960s Los Angeles, involving him with a group of radical black militants who might be even less trustworthy than the cops. The plot pivots around Brawly Brown, a twenty-three-year-old hothead who has forsaken his troubled family to join the Urban Revolutionary Party. Since Brawly's estranged mother is the lover of one of Easy's close friends, Easy takes time away from his day job as a school custodian to determine whether these armed insurrectionists are radical idealists or a street gang operating on the fringes of organized crime. Complicating his investigation are Brawly's romantic entanglements, which Easy finds almost as tough to sort out as the group's political factions. While Easy Rawlins remains one of the more compelling protagonists in contemporary crime fiction, he accurately describes this novel's predicament as "a puzzle with too many pieces." Whereas Mosley's previous work has been more character-driven, here he gives the reader too much plot, too many characters and too little reason to care.
Finally. Five years after the last taste (1997's Gone Fishin') and six years after the last full meal (1996's A Little Yellow Dog), Easy Rawlins makes a very welcome return. Now 44 years old, Easy no longer makes a living from doing people "favors." Now he owns a house, works for the Board of Education in Los Angeles and is father to a teenage son, Jesus, and a young daughter, Feather. It's 1964, and while some things have changed, the process is slow and uncertain. Too slow for some, including Brawly Brown, the son of Alva, the girlfriend of Easy's friend, John. Hotheaded Brawly has become involved with a group calling itself the Urban Revolutionary Party, and John and Alva fear the group's unspoken aim is violence and revenge. Friendship and loyalty being still sacred to Easy, he agrees, as a favor, to try to locate and talk to Brawly. As usual, Easy's path is not easy. When a body surfaces, Easy finds himself in the middle of a vicious puzzle where lives are cheap and death the easiest solution. As always, Mosley illuminates time and place with a precision few writers can match whatever genre they choose. He also delivers a rousing good story and continues to captivate with characters readers have grown to love, including the now "dead" Mouse, who still plays an important role in Easy's chronicle. Agent, Gloria Loomis. (One-day laydown July 2) Forecast: This one should shoot up bestseller lists, backed by a 10-city author tour and a major advertising and publicity campaign. The reissue and repackaging of six Easy Rawlins novels this fall, each with an original stand-alone story focusing on the fate of Easy's friend Mouse, will keep the momentum going. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
This latest outing in Mosley's ongoing detective series (Devil in a Blue Dress) could be subtitled Easy Rawlins's Family Values, as the concept of family whether the one you are born into or the one you choose for yourself echoes throughout. Set in 1964, the core of the plot finds Easy on a mission to lure the title character back to his mother. But not only is Brawley bad, he's big and not so easily swayed, especially since joining the Urban Revolutionary Party, a political group wary of strangers. Add to that a cache of stolen guns, secret government investigators, a payroll heist, several murders, problems with his son, and everybody lying about everything, plus his own crushing guilt over the apparent death of his best friend, and you've got Easy behind the eight ball once again. The author continues to probe the African American experience, and while a crime is at the heart of this book, its soul lies in deeper issues. Nonetheless, Mosley is always a good read. Recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/02.] Michael Rogers, "Library Journal" Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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.
In a rare slowing of his usual leaps forward in time, Mosley, who's chronicled the adventures of reluctant Watts detective Ezekiel Rawlins from 1948 (Devil in a Blue Dress) to 1963 (A Little Yellow Dog), edges forward only three months to tell the story of Easy's search for Brawly Brown, the hulking young man who ran away from his mother, Alva Torres, smack into trouble. He's been drawn into the Urban Revolutionary Party, a black-power group that advocates either cultural unity (according to URP director Xavier Bodan and secretary Tina Montes) or armed insurrection (according to LAPD Detective Vincent Knorr, one of the D-squad stalwarts charged with bringing the party down). Even before he meets these antagonists, however, Easy's already followed Brawly into trouble when his visit to Alva's cousin, Isolda Moore, leaves him standing over the cooling corpse of Brawly's father, lying dead in Isolda's doorway. The evidence, of course, points to the son who'd threatened his old man. But Mosley uses this central conflict to focus a whole seething world of trouble, from Easy's guilt over the death of his fearless, violent friend Mouse to his heroic efforts to keep his family together to his eternal battles with the cops who are railroading him once more. "Where I come from they don't have dark-skinned private detectives," says Easy in the finest rationale ever proposed for the amateur sleuth. Helping his brothers only because nobody else will, he returns from his six-year sabbatical more complex and compelling than ever before: a hero for his time and ours.