Sunday, May 29, 2016

Walter Mosley's 14th Easy Rawlins Mystery - Charcoal Joe

Back on February 27, I wrote a review of Walter Mosley's 1st Easy Rawlins book, The Devil in the Blue Dress.  I didn't love it, but I did give it a 2.5/4.  I also told you how I came to read book 1, and how I was planning on reading the latest in the series, #14, Charcoal Joe.  Well, I did.  And I can see a pretty big development from #1-#14.  This one gets a 3/4 from me.  And it does make me even more excited to see Walter Mosley on June 16, at Kepler's.  After all, he is the winner of the 2016 Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America.  That is cool.

When you read a series with a fair amount of episodes, the plot is pretty insignificant.  I mean, do you care who Gabriel Allon will save in the next Daniel Silva?  Nah.  Same here.  But that doesn't mean I don't have anything to say (perish the thought!).  Some observations:

1.  I really liked the relationship between Easy and his daughter, Feather.
2.  One of the ancillary characters, Fearless Jones, ends up arm wrestling with a big cocky auto repair shop bully.  I found myself looking forward to the match.  I guess that means I cared about not only Easy and Feather, but also Fearless.
3.  Very late in the book, Easy and Feather meet Fearless at the Brown Derby Restaurant in Hollywood.  My mother told me a story about her and my father.  Many, many years ago, they went to dinner at the Brown Derby.  When the maitre d' went to seat them, my father said "We don't sit in this room."  So he took them into a private room.  And inside were a whole bunch of stars, including a table that had Sharon Tate and Roman Polaski.  And, of course, we all know what happened with Sharon and Charles Manson.  My father had a lot of chutzpah (a good Yiddish word; look it up.
4.  Mosley still made me tear up once or twice.  I didn't do that in book 1.

I still want to give you a few examples of his writing:

1.  "Uncontrollably his left knee was bobbing up and down like a seamstress's joint working a foot-powered sewing machine."
2.  "Mouse was a colorful man, his beauty defined by the distance one had from him."
3.  Deciphering his age would have required an algebraic equation that depended upon the variables of smoking and liquor consumption."
4.  "Walk softly wherever it is you goin'.  You know Charcoal Joe is a tombstone just waitin' for a name."

I can go on and on.  Suffice it to say that I really like his writing.


1.  J. Ryan Stradal, author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest, will be coming to The Wine Steward, at 641 Main St., in Pleasanton, CA, on Tuesday, June 7, at 3:00.  Since I read Kitchens for Books, Inc. 4th Tuesday Book Club, back in 2015, and gave it a 3.25/4, I will definitely be there (and I don't even drink wine!)
2.  The 3rd book in Greg Iles Natchez Burning trilogy will be coming out in 2017.  That's all the info I have so far.


  1. I haven't gotten to any of his books yet but my sister loves them so I really do need to make the time.

    1. He definitely writes in a more hard-boiled, throw-back style than most detective series, I would say.

  2. Whoops. I just made a correction. It looks like Betsy Franco won't be able to join us for the RBC on August 31. It's still a possibility, but I took it off anyway.