Friday, November 15, 2019

Fiction Review: Devil in the Blue Dress

The last book I read for the fall RIP XIV Challenge last month was Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley, the first book in his popular and award-winning Easy Rawlins mystery series. This was the first Mosley mystery I have read, after loving his novel, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, and hearing him speak for our All-County Reads program in 2015. Until then, I had no idea he had such range, writing mysteries, science fiction, YA, and even family dramas (with a slight sci fi twist), like Ptolemy Grey (highly recommended!). I enjoyed Devil in a Blue Dress, with its likable main character and twisty, suspenseful mystery.

In 1948 Los Angeles, black WWII veteran Easy Rawlins has just been fired from his job at a defense plant. He's in his friend Joppy's bar, when a white man walks in. It's odd enough to see a white man in Joppy's, but this man is especially pale, with pale eyes, and is wearing a white linen suit and Panama hat, making him stand out even more. He offers Easy a job, saying that Joppy recommended him: to find a white woman named Daphne Monet, whose photo shows her to be a beautiful young woman. Normally, this sort of thing would sound too shady for Easy to get involved in, but he did just lose his job, and he needs to make his mortgage payment in order to hang onto his house, which is very important to him. He reluctantly agrees to look for Miss Monet and begins to make discreet inquiries around town. He's not discreet enough, though, because soon, people around him begin to die violent deaths. Easy follows the clues, not only to find Miss Monet but also to save lives, including his own.

That begins a twisty, dark, suspenseful mystery that leads Easy all over the city, as the bodies pile up. Through it all, Easy survives getting arrested, beaten, crossing paths with organized crime, and yes, finding Daphne, as well as a suitcase full of money. His local friends in Watts, an African-American community in LA, help him, as well as some old friends from Houston, where Easy grew up. This unique, intricate mystery kept me captivated through all of its fast-paced action and tense suspense. It also kept me guessing, not knowing who was behind the crimes and the violence until the very end. I enjoyed this first adventure with Easy Rawlins and look forward to reading more.

263 pages, Washington Square Press

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Listen to a sampleof the audio book, from the start of the first chapter, here and/or download it from Audible.

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  1. I have only read one Walter Mosely book and I can't remember which one I read. It felt male to me. Does that make sense? I haven't read another one, but maybe I should.

    1. Hmmm...yes, that makes sense. He is a man, and this series has a male main character :)

      I think you would like Ptolemy Gray, though - a very interesting and thoughtful family drama.