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Little Scarlet: An Easy Rawlins Mysteryby Walter Mosley
Synopses & Reviews
Easy Rawlins returns to solve a mystery set amid the flames of the hottest summer L.A. has ever seen.
Just after devastating riots tear through Los Angeles in 1965 — when anger is high and fear still smolders everywhere — the police turn up at Easy Rawlins's doorstep. He expects the worst, as usual. But they've come to ask for his help.
A man was wrenched from his car by a mob at the riots' peak and escaped into a nearby apartment building. Soon afterward, a redheaded woman known as Little Scarlet was found dead in that building — and the fleeing man is the obvious suspect. But the man has vanished.
The police fear that their presence in certain neighborhoods could spark a new inferno, so they ask Easy Rawlins to see what he can discover. The vanished man is the key, but he is only the beginning. Easy enlists the help of his longtime friend Mouse to break through the shroud. And what Easy finds is a killer whose rage, like that which burned in the city for weeks, is intrinsically woven around deep-set passions — feelings echoed within Easy himself.
"Set during the Watts riots of 1965, this eighth entry in Mosley's acclaimed Easy Rawlins series (Bad Boy Brawly Brown, etc.) demonstrates the reach and power of the genre, combining a deeply involving mystery with vigorous characterizations and probing commentary about race relations in America. Easy Rawlins, 45, is — like the rest of black L.A. — angry: 'the angry voice in my heart that urged me to go out and fight after all the hangings I had seen, after all of the times I had been called nigger and all of the doors that had been slammed in my face.' But Easy stays out of the fiery streets until a white cop and his bosses recruit him to identify the murderer of a young black woman, Nola Payne; the cops suspect an unidentified white man whom Nola sheltered during the riots, and are worried that if they pursue the case, word will leak and the riots will escalate. Easy, an unlicensed PI who also works as a school custodian, agrees to investigate, drawing into his quest several series regulars, including the stone killer Mouse, the magical healer Mama Jo and his own family. There's also a sexy young woman whose allure, like that of the violent streets, threatens to smash the life of integrity he has so carefully built. In time, Easy focuses on a homeless black man as the killer, not only of Nola but of perhaps 20 other black women, all of whom had hooked up with white men. This is Mosley's best novel to date: the plot is streamlined and the language simple yet strong, allowing the serpentine story line to support Easy's amazingly complex character and hypnotic narration as Mosley plunges us into his world and, by extension, the world of all blacks in white-run America. Fierce, provocative, expertly entertaining, this is genre writing at its finest. (July 5) Forecast: Strong reviews, Mosley's rep and word of mouth will get this title onto lists quickly; a 30-city author tour will add lift. Expect this to be Mosley's biggest seller yet." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[Little Scarlet] is being touted as Mosley's best book yet, and it may well be....Mosley juggles the disparate elements of his tale masterfully....This time, he comes up with a winner. (Grade: A)" Entertainment Weekly
"Easy Rawlins sizzles as Watts burns....The real strength of Easy's narrative...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." Kirkus Reviews
"Mosley returns to top form....Mosley remains a master at showing his readers slices of history from the inside, from a perspective that is all those things history usually isn't: intimate, individual, and passionate." Bill Ott, Booklist (Starred Review)
"Mosley's hot streak continues with Little Scarlet, the best Easy novel in years. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"Little Scarlet...does a thoughtful, effective job of making [its] sense of racial outrage pivotal to its murder plot....What makes it more than a genre piece is Easy's insight into how the world is changing around him." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"Little Scarlet...is so filled with rage that I almost put it down. But Mosley's writing is so beautiful, so powerful, that I let the anger boil off the pages to the side of me while I stayed in it and finished what is a great novel, a significant addition to the story of America." John Orr, San Jose Mercury News
"Little Scarlet is tightly woven, as propulsive as a bullet, a book that's almost literally impossible to put down." David L. Ulin, Newsday
"Little Scarlet is a wonderful character driven novel — entertaining and pertinent to our times." Oscar Hijuelos, author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love and A Simple Habana Melody
"[A] fine, tense, taut mystery....Mosley's novel is leaner, less atmospheric than his previous books, but the racist self-hatreds, horrors, terrors and tribulations are more apparent, more passionate and fervent..." Sam Coale, Providence Journal
"Mosley's crackling dialogue and sly humor infuse every page....
"Some mystery writers have a brilliant book or two in them, then just go through the motions....Then there are the precious few, who start with an amazing book and just keep getting better. Mosley is one of those." Colette Bancroft, St. Petersburg Times
"[Mosley] takes us along for a fascinating ride to a place most of us will never visit. It is as exotic as Tibet and as familiar as our own city." Tim Cuprisin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Little Scarlet is a terrific yarn from a tormented moment in recent American history." John Burdett, The Washington Post Book World
"[A] novel full of interesting characters and important issues....Like any good serial, though, it also leaves readers wanting to know more about our hero and what predicament he'll find himself in next." Ashley Simpson Shires, Rocky Mountain News
"Indignation, ferocity, excoriation scorch the pages of Little Scarlet like a fiery sermon, powerful for its nuance, poignant for its humanity and all the more compassionate for coming from the heart and mind of Easy Rawlins." Thomas Curwen, Los Angeles Times
"Mosley has a unique voice that remains fresh and he tells a damn good story. Little Scarlet is a compelling portrait of a painful era, peopled by living, breathing, unforgettable characters. This may be Walter Mosley's best." Jonathan Kellerman, author of Therapy
"Little Scarlet is a masterwork. Walter Mosley is one of America's most exciting, incisive writers." George Pelecanos, author of Hard Revolution
"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." Tatiana Siegel, USA Today
An irresistible story of love and death amid the flames of the hottest summer L.A. has ever seen, this latest Easy Rawlins mystery takes place during the devastating 1965 Watts riots. Easy's hunt for a killer reveals a new city emerging from the ashes — and a new life for Easy and his friends.
Walter Mosley delivers at last the compelling master work everyone's been waiting for--a novel so intriguing, so soulful, so unstoppably dramatic that it will rank among the classic mysteries of our time.
At the height of the riots that cripple LA in the summer of 1965, a white man is pulled from his car by a mob and escapes into a nearby apartment building. Soon afterward, a red-headed woman known as Little Scarlet is found dead in that apartment building--and the fleeing man is the obvious suspect. The police ask Easy Rawlins to investigate. What he finds is a killer whose rage, like that which burned the city for weeks, is intrinsically woven around race and passion. Rawlins's hunt for the killer will reveal a new city emerging from the ashes--and a new life for Easy and his friends.
Mosley's lean and muscular vernacular captures the heat and the rhythm of Los Angeles' heart, where danger is the common currency of everyday life.
About the Author
Walter Mosley is the author of the bestselling Easy Rawlins series of mysteries, the novel R.L.'s Dream, and the story collection Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, for which he received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. He was born in Los Angeles and has been at various times in his life a potter, a computer programmer, and a poet. His books have been translated into twenty languages. He lives in New York.
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