Sunday, June 19, 2011

Devil In A Blue Dress by Walter Mosley

In 1940’s LA, a workingman’s search for a missing woman is interrupted by a number of murders

I read a short story by Walter Mosley in the latest Tin House and it was really good which inspired me to pick this book up. I was a little disappointed as the novel was more like a typical apprentice like detective novel although with a unique setting.Mosley's most famous character, Easy Rawlins, a careful, quiet narrator/detective, is introduced. The writing was spare, well crafted and Mosley has a facility for expressing emotions without dialogue, with gestures and movements. It just wasn’t as original and surprising as the short story.

The plot felt kind of cliché, but it was a very easy read. The setting is unique. African Americans from Houston in LA. The woman who is the devil with a blue dress doesn’t feel quite real, (or quite motivated) although all the male characters do. They are perverse and full of eccentric life. I also like the way the book quietly comments on a lot of larger issues, such as racism, police brutality, the movement of poor black southerners to industrial cities, how men treat women, and alcoholism.

What makes me want to continue reading the series is the relationship between laid back Easy and his amoral friend Mouse. Maybe put together they will make up a complete man. Who is worthy of redemption? Maybe Easy Rawlins, maybe not.

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