Saturday, February 27, 2016

Devil in the Blue Dress, by Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley has won a bunch of awards, including the PEN American Center's Lifetime Achievement Award.  Devil in the Blue Dress is his 1st book in the Easy Rawlins series. And it was published in 1990.  So why would I start a series that is 26 years old?  A legitimate question, y'all.

Here's the story.  I'm on the email list for Keplers.  So I see all of their upcoming events (and there are a bunch of them year-round).  On June 16, Walter Mosley will be appearing, in conjunction with the NorCal division of the Mystery Writers of America.  I didn't think much about it when I saw it.  I had never read Mosley.  And, of course, there are dozens, maybe even hundreds, of events each year that I don't attend.  So why now?  The short version is that Nicole told me that if I want to go to the event, she would send me an ARC. She recommended that I read #1 and decide if I want to go ahead with the latest edition. Bottom line is that I liked it.  I didn't love it, but I did give it a 2.5/4.  Good enough to see the main character's development over 26 years and 14 books.

So who is Easy Rawlins?  Here's the blurb on the back cover:

Los Angeles, 1948:  Easy Rawlins is a black war veteran just fired from his job at a defense plant.  Easy is drinking in a friend's bar, wondering how he'll meet his mortgage, when a white man in a linen suit walks in, offering good money if Easy will simply locate Miss Daphne Monet, a blond beauty known to frequent black jazz clubs. 

Some observations-
1.  The book comes across a little hard-boiled, like the one Raymond Chandler book I read.
2.  I didn't find out until page 175 that Easy was planning on a new profession:  "It was those two days more than any other time that made me a detective."
3.  Easy learned proper English but had to speak in the dialect in order to mix with both the black and white communities.
4.  Mosley knows how to write:

"The dark cracks twisting through the light marble looked like a web of blood vessels in a newborn baby's head."

"...he had her in tow like a child's toy wagon."

"She sized me up, putting her nose in the air like a leery dog checking out the new mailman..."

"Mouse frowned for just a second.  It was like a small cloud passing quickly on a sunny day."

I have now signed up for Mosley's June 16 appearance.  And I have to say I'm looking forward to it.  Will I see (any of) you there?


  1. The only trouble I have reading books about Easy Rawlins is that I am absolutely incapable of reading them without picturing Denzel Washington - he has become so associated for me with that character! Since I love Denzel Washington, that's a good thing! :--) If you haven't seen the movie for this one, I highly recommend it!

    1. I'm a huge movie buff, but don't remember Devil in the Blue Dress, let alone Denzel acting in it. Were there other Easy Rawlins movies with him in the lead?