3.18.2015

Walter Mosley, “Devil in a Blue Dress”

Reading Mosley on lunch break!
Those are my feet in argyle socks at the bottom
of the photo. 
Well this was fun.

It's been a darn long time since I have found a new (well, new-to-me) mystery series that I can whole-heartedly enjoy. The Easy Rawlins mysteries are now officially on the list!

I just love me some good detective fiction. I am a bit picky. I tend to strongly prefer whodunits and am a big fan of Golden Age detective fiction. I read a lot of British authors, but I also really enjoy American authors like Rex Stout.

And now Walter Mosley.

I wouldn't say this is a perfectly classic whodunit, but it comes close. It is written in a gritty hard-boiled style, rather than a “cozy” style, which is a change for me, but one I definitely enjoy (I don't like cozies because they're cozy; I like cozies because they're whodunits).

Anyway, our sleuth Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins is a reluctant sort of sleuth. He's just been fired from his job for standing up to his racist boss. He needs money or the bank will foreclose on his house. So when a mysterious stranger approaches him in his friend's bar and offers him a hundred bucks just to find a girl . . . it's hard to say no.

Adventures ensue.

This series is set in the 1940's through, I believe, the 1960's (obviously I haven't read the whole series yet, so I don't know what the full time-span is). This one is set in the late 40's. Easy is a black man living in L.A., just back from combat in WWII. And Walter Mosley? Damn fine writer. The last murder mystery series I tried was the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. I like historical series a great deal, and I like female protagonists, so I hoped that one would be up my street, but no. The prose was painful, the historical background was poorly considered, and the lead was a Mary Sue. Ugh.

Walter Mosley, however, just nails it. if I didn't know better I'd say this book was written in the 40's. His writing is crisp and compelling and never ridiculous. His characters are vivid and well-imagined and his dialogue is snappy. His descriptions are evocative and never wind on pointlessly. The story was well-plotted, carefully paced, and just damn good overall.

If you like noir-style detective fiction, you will. like. this. book. Highly recommended.