Friday, February 7, 2014

Devil in a Blue Dress

Devil in a Blue Dress: An Easy Rawlins Mystery  Devil in a Blue Dress: An Easy Rawlins Mystery by Walter Mosley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When a jobless World War II vet named Easy Rawlins is hired to find a woman, he finds himself ensnared in a web of lies and murder. Can Easy find Daphne Monet without becoming another victim? And what secrets is Daphne Monet carrying?

Devil in a Blue Dress is a throwback to the pioneers of noir like Hammett, Chandler, and Cain. Only this PI is black and his case takes place in the black Los Angeles of 1948. Mosley's black LA is just as vivid as Chandler's seedy Hollywood underbelly.

Easy's supporting cast is as colorful as anything Hammett or Chandler ever crafted: Frank Green, Joppy, Junior, Dupree, and the rest. DeWitt Albright is a sociopathic villain, the most frightening kind, and Easy's pal Mouse isn't much higher on the food chain.

Easy is a conflicted character, not wanting to get too deep into the web of murder surrounding Daphne Monet but unable to stop himself. Mouse provides a nice contrast to Easy in that he's not conflicted in the least. As far as Bad Ass Friends go, Mouse is really high on my list. He's unhinged but likes Easy enough to follow him anywhere as long as Easy doesn't get in his way.

Owing to its early noir roots, the case is suitably serpentine. Once I assumed everyone except Easy was a liar, it was one hell of a ride to the finish.

The prose was good. I'd say it owed more to Hammett than Chandler. I'll be interested to see where the series goes from here considering how many of the players were dead by the end.

Four out of five stars. I think I've found the series that will eat up a portion of my 2014 crime reading.

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