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Author of the Month

Name: Walter Mosley

First Novel: Devil In A Blue Dress

Most Recent Book: Little Green

'I was spoiled by Mosley’s compelling narrative, his prose as crisp as the crease on Easy Rawlins’ pants. '

Synopsis:
Easy wakes up from a two-month-long coma after drunkenly driving his car over a cliff in 2007's ‘Blonde Faith’. Everyone — even Mosley — thought he was dead. His family were making arrangements for his funeral. But not so fast: Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins is back.

True to form, the tough WWII veteran survives a car crash and a coma, and soon his murderous sidekick Mouse has him cruising the streets of L.A., in all their psychedelic 1967 glory, to look for a young black man, Evander “Little Green” Noon, who disappeared during an acid trip.

Exhausted, but fuelled by an elixir called Gator’s Blood, brewed by the conjure woman Mama Jo, Easy experiences a physical, spiritual, and emotional resurrection, but peace and love soon give way to murder and mayhem. Still wondering if he's alive and if he is, then why, Easy staggers from his sick bed on unsteady legs and sets off on a quest through the hippie landscape of 1967 Los Angeles. But is he looking for Little Green or himself?

Review:
In my view, a new novel from Walter Mosley is something to take note of, but a new novel from Walter Mosley starring Easy Rawlins is an event. Seriously, if you are a fan of the genre and you haven’t read any of these books, you need to start questioning your credentials.

Opening the first page of ‘Little Green’, I had a sudden moment of fear. What if the great man had lost his mojo? But I needn’t have worried, from the first line, I was back in 1960’s L.A. and relaxing into the world of a storytelling master.

I was spoiled by Mosley’s compelling narrative, his prose as crisp as the crease on Easy Rawlins’ pants. He also serves up a wonderful cast of characters you can’t help but hang your heart on.

Mosley is never more effective than when he has some social ills to work with and here he conjures an atmospheric historical setting, capturing effortlessly the peacenik, beatnik free-love vibe of L.A. While he was in a coma, the world changed and Easy learns to adapt quickly, presenting a fascinating viewpoint of one of the landmark eras of the modern age. His trawl through a hippie commune in search of the missing boy is surely a description as evocative as any memoir of the time.

Walter Mosley is the real deal. Whatever “transcends genre” really means, Mosley is all over it. He’s a writer you can approach from any perspective. You want a fast pace and a strong plot? He’s your man. Looking for all of that and layers of insight and a light touch examination of the human condition? Ditto.

I once heard a famous author saying that readers are loyal to character and Rawlins himself is surely a character who elicits such an emotion. He’s a father to ‘found’ children, a self-educated black man, traversing a time of great upheaval. A knight from another time, (his charger: a red Plymouth Barracuda), giving voice to the frightened and voiceless and righting wrongs no-one else cares about. Such a character inspires loyalty – and a readership. Don’t be one of the ones who miss out.

Reviewed by: M.M.

CrimeSquad Rating



Questionnaire

1) I was delighted to see when I picked up your latest book that Ezekiel Rawlins was back. For those UK readers who might be new to Easy, could you describe for us the reason you drove him off a cliff at the end of ‘Blonde Faith’, and then brought him ‘back to life’ all these years later?
The answer to this question would be illuminating whether or not the reader was acquainted with the series. I stopped writing Easy because I couldn’t see new vistas for him. I started again when those vistas once again became clear.
2) How much did you enjoy returning to the world of Easy Rawlins?
I love writing about Easy’s world. Talking about Jackson Blue, Raymond Alexander, EttaMae Harris, and all the other residents, named and unnamed, in Easy’s Los Angeles opens up the door of history for those that, I feel, have been denied.
3) What do you see are the qualities in Easy that your readers have fallen in love with?
Readers in general, I believe, fall in love with eyes that see and a heart that feels.
4) You have a number of fascinating characters in ‘Little Green’, one of my favourites was Mama Jo, tell us how she came about? And where can I get me some of that Gator’s Blood?
I don’t know about the gator’s blood but Mama Jo comes from my Cousin Alberta. When Alberta was a child she was bitten by a rat on her arm. The limb turned jet black and swelled up to three times its size. Alberta came down with fever and everyone thought she would die. This was in Texas in the thirties and there was no going to a doctor so a healer woman from the neighbourhood came over. She made a secret poultice and wrapped it around the bite. The next day the arm had returned to its normal size and colour and the fever was gone. When Alberta took off the bandage she found a dead toad with its belly slit open and pressed against the wound. That’s my Mama Jo.
5) You conjure up a wonderful sense of place and time. How important is this to you?
Place and time is ninety percent of story. If you know where you are and what time it is you also know where you want to be.
6) When you look back at your oeuvre, do you see something that links your work?
Black male heroes – the most underrated champions of the western world.
7) Raymond Chandler reportedly once wrote of crime fiction that the "mystery and the solution of the mystery are only what I call 'the olive in the Martini'". What’s your view?
I agree with your countryman on that. Fiction is defined by the voice and the evocations of that voice. Looking at the same question from another point of view; fiction is like any holiday: the final destination is coming back home but the journey is what you love.
8) You’ve been publishing your work for a number of years now – how do you see the role of the writer changing and how have you evolved as a writer since your first book?
I have changed as a writer inasmuch as I have become more myself.
9) Any plans to come over and meet your fans in the UK?
I’ll be there in October.
10) What would you say are the top three crime novels that have made a lasting impression on you?
The Maltese Falcon, The Long Goodbye, and any Rex Stout novel where Archie Goodwin starts talking.