Although the story is narrated in the first person by Easy Rawlins, who is the hero of a series of Mosley novels, the true protagonist of the book is collectively the riots and their aftermath. Mosley is considerably more interested in the ambiguous state of mind of the black citizenry, the disorientation of the cops and the looted, shambolic condition of Watts itself than he is in the adventures of his hero. Watts, in truth, is a world turned upside down, and Mosley simply points his hero at it and rolls the camera.
The Washington Post
Once he recovers his own street voice, Easy finally comes up with the last word on the riots: ''It's hot and they been sittin' on our necks forever.'' Nobody, but nobody, writes this stuff like Mosley.
The New York Times Sunday Book Review
Little Scarlet — most of the Easy Rawlins books, like Devil in a Blue Dress, have colors in their titles — does a thoughtful, effective job of making that sense of racial outrage pivotal to its murder plot. As he did most recently in the non-Rawlins novel The Man in My Basement, Mr. Mosley is able to show how extreme racial polarities can lead to situations that are in no way black and white.
The New York Times
Little Scarlet works so well because it operates on two distinct levels: as a compelling cat-and-mouse game and as a dead-eyed examination of the injustices inherent in racism. Little Scarlet enjoys the bonus of taking place against a lush and frightening historical backdrop of urban America teetering on the precipice of change.
Admirably performed by reader Boatman, this audiobook the latest in Mosley's series featuring Los Angeles PI Easy Rawlins (A Red Death, etc.) picks up immediately after the Watts riots of 1965. It is a time of change, and Rawlins finds himself in the unusual position of being asked to officially help the LAPD in its search for the killer of a young black woman. Mosley is at his best capturing the gritty ambience of a setting, and Boatman's skillful reading of the author's rich, descriptive prose transports listeners to that sweltering summer, when violence and fear simmered just below the city's surface. With the support of the LAPD in his back pocket, Rawlins makes his way through places that had previously been closed, if not forbidden, to the blacks of that time. Boatman does a fine job of conveying the growing sense of confidence and strength that comes with Rawlins's newfound freedom. Tightly edited and nicely produced, this already enjoyable audiobook is further enhanced by snippets of jazz accenting the story elements at the beginning and end of each disc. Simultaneous release with the Little, Brown hardcover (Forecasts, May 24). (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
The raw treatment of blacks in America, which has simmered beneath the surface of Mosley's Easy Rawlins novels and came to a low bubble in Bad Boy Brawley Brown, here erupts to a full boil. Set during the 1965 Watts riots, the eighth book in the series finds Easy, now 45, as he is recruited by the LAPD to investigate a murder in that combat-zone neighborhood. With a letter from the deputy police commissioner giving him carte blanche, Easy semipartners with his street crew of Rawlins regulars and LAPD Detective Melvin Suggs to work both sides of the law to unearth the identity of what proves to be a serial killer. Beyond the backdrop of the riots, the question of color is intricately and masterfully woven into the fabric of the story without overwhelming the mystery. The pervading theme here is change, in both the community and the core characters, and the novel's conclusion is perhaps indicative that this installment is a turning point in the series. Mosley's hot streak continues with Little Scarlet, the best Easy novel in years. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/04; see Q&A with Mosley on p. 107.]-Michael Rogers, Library Journal Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Easy Rawlins sizzles as Watts burns. The official death toll in the 1966 Watts riots is 33, but the LAPD is keeping a 34th fatality quiet. The victim is red-haired Nola Payne, a.k.a. Li'l Scarlet, strangled and then shot after she rescued a white man who'd been rousted from his car by an opportunistic thief. Det. Melvin Suggs and Deputy Commissioner Gerald Jordan don't say it in so many words, but the cops who drive the streets hassling loners are scared to go door-to-door asking questions while storefronts are still smoldering. So Easy accepts a paper from Jordan authorizing him to investigate. As usual, Easy isn't much of a detective-his inquiries lead to a chain of suspicious characters who finger one another-but he could hardly be improved as a philosopher and aphorist. Recognizing early on that the official response to the riots, enlisting subservient black men into the oppressive ranks of white officialdom and cracking down on the rest, marks "the beginning of the breakup of our community," Easy, who's "never willingly said anything intelligent" to a white man, follows a trail of ill-fated souls who've sought to cross racial divides till he finds the most tortured killer of his checkered career (Six Easy Pieces, 2003, etc.). The real strength of Easy's narrative, though, is his unflinching recognition that in working with the police, he's crossing the same border that's driven his brothers and sisters to violence. Author tour. Agent: Gloria Loomis/Watkins Loomis Agency