Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Review: Walter Mosley. Blonde Faith.

Hachette. ISBN:0316734594 978031673459. 2007.

Michael Sedano

If Blonde Faith had been the first Easy Rawlins novel I’d read, I’d probably be distracted by its frequent references to events in the previous novel in the ten title series. I might even stop, go read number nine, then pick up Blonde Faith, to make sense of the abject depression that grips Rawlins as the book opens. Not a bad plan, the two read as a continuation of one another.

Rawlins’ relationship with Bonnie deteriorated toward dissolution in the prior story. Now Bonnie’s announced marriage to the prince consumes Easy with regret. Circumstances deny the detective any chance to wallow; Mouse has gone into hiding behind a shoot-to-kill LAPD warrant and Christmas Black’s adopted daughter has landed unannounced on Easy’s doorstep. Easy has to prove Mouse innocent and solve the mysterious disappearance of the ferocious Vietnam commando.

Easy is left on his own for almost the entire novel, turning to the computer guy and the curandera from earlier stories, for clues to tracking down the absent comrades. The violently bloody trail of the missing friends keeps readers turning pages to see how the ex-janitor card-carrying detective solves another puzzle.

Much of the action takes Rawlins into the white world. Easy’s confrontations with white guys often leave a bitter taste in a reader’s experience, even after Mosley might cap off matters with a delicious irony and Ezekiel Rawlins getting over. In Blonde Faith, racial interactions have changed in Easy’s L.A. An L.A. cop has become Easy’s snitch, a decent guy. Other white people, like the old detective mentor, or a restaurant manager, help balance out the crap that comes Easy’s way just because he’s black. In one scene, a snooty hostess tries to humble Easy and his fancy date, but Easy’s grateful former client the manager humiliates the woman instead, assigning her to wait on Easy and his date through a compliments of the house fancy dinner. It’s an indication of Mosley’s mastery of irony that he lets the event speak for itself, he doesn’t editorialize on the white woman’s experience. It’s an interesting silence in that Mosley rarely misses an opportunity to highlight everyday gestures of racial expression.

The Easy Rawlins series has long been a reliable source of reading pleasure. The mystery’s only part of the fun. Much comes from observing Rawlins and Mouse make their way through black and white L.A. like a Jekyll and Hyde, the one works with reason the other pure anger. Sometimes the one is as good as the other. But times change, and as the Rawlins saga continues we read about a more tolerant California. Easy’s beginning to slow down--despite his bedding two luscious fantasies—it’s been forty years since Easy left the Army. And it’s obvious Mouse is heading for a big fall.

What comes next? Mosley started then stopped the Socrates Fortlow story. Fearless Jones and Paris Minton have lots of possibilities and were last seen only last year, que no? A ver. I hope the author will explore the Rawlins clan. An early Easy Rawlins story has the detective rescue a Mexican boy, Jesus, from a pederast. This introduces an East L.A. story line and set of characters. Now Juice is all grown and ready to take on his own story.

That’s the final week of October 2007. October. See you in November.

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Lisa Alvarado said...

I would love to read a Mosley take on East L.A. Maybe I should light a candle on the altar for that one!

Peter J. Schoenster said...

Jackson Blue is the computer guy's name. Easy stands with Spencer, Robicheaux and Bosch imho. There was talk on another blog that perhaps this would be the last tale with Easy. I certainly hope not. I hope he keeps writing about Easy, Mouse, Jackson Blue, Paris Minton and Fearless Jones (who have their own books btw), and the rest of a fascinating and entertaining world. I'd love to see a book or movie with all the L.A. characters like Bosch, Joe Pike, Elvis Cole, Easy, and heck Spenser's been out to CA with Hawk before .. Connelly has already referenced Cole in one of his books which was funny. Anyhow, if you have not read the world of Easy Rawlins, you have a delight ahead of you and I hope Mr. Mosley keeps it going.