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    Review of LITTLE SCARLET by Walter Mosley (see his website)


    Little, Brown and Company, July 2004

    Watts is burning. Days of rage and violence, looting and fire--and now the police have a nightmare on their hands. The body of a young black woman--whose aunt is telling everyone who listened that a white man raped and murdered her. If that word gets out on the dangerous Los Angeles streets, Watts will explode again. The police don't have the contacts they need in the black community to solve the crime and turn to Easy Rawlins.

    Easy doesn't trust the cops. He knows they are more interested in protecting their rears than in finding a killer--that black women are murdered all the time while the cops look the other way. But Easy cares. While Los Angeles still smolders, he sets off on a quixotic quest for a small measure of justice.

    Author Walter Mosley (see more reviews of novels by Mosley) makes the dangerous streets of 1965 Los Angeles come alive. Black men and women smolder in resentment while whites tremble in fear and rage. The men who populate Easy Rawlins' world aren't nice--they fight, steal, sleep around, even kill--but they are real and vital.

    Using his contacts in the black underworld, and his gift of the gab--as well as a letter from the deputy police chief that barely keeps him from being beaten by scared cops a number of times, Easy finds the white man who saw the dead woman last. But Easy's instincts tell him that this is not a killer--which means that the real killer is somewhere on the burning streets.

    LITTLE SCARLET is powerful stuff. Combining a solid mystery, compelling insights into the conflict between races, and Mosley's strengths in exploring what it means to be a man in 20th century black America, SCARLET grabbed me and pulled me along for a dynamite ride. If you enjoy mystery and an author who mixes humor, danger, and tragedy in a compelling blend, you'll be happy you picked up this one.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 2/06/05

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