Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Book Review: CHARCOAL JOE, by Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley
Doubleday, 2016
306 pages
Crime / Private Detective

What can I ever say differently about an Easy Rawlins novel that I haven't said in the past? Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins is by far my favorite private detective character ever. Thing that started it for me was seeing Denzel Washington in Devil in a Blue Dress. Once I found out that movie was based on a book . . . Let's just say the rest is history. I have been a fan of Mosley (Hate to say his #1 fan, because no one likes a bragger --but that would be me) ever since!

CHARCOAL JOE is another fantastic installment in the Easy series. The book takes place in Los Angeles during the 1960s. Ezekiel Porterhouse Rawlins, better known as Easy, is a private detective, and has recently opened up an official agency with two partners. With an office and business cards, and everything.

When his long time friend, Raymond "Mouse" Alexander, come to him with a job, there is no way Easy can say no. He can't say no for a number of reasons. Mouse has saved his life, and protected Easy's family more times than Easy can count. Also, Mouse is representing Charcoal Joe. Joe is the kind of man that if he asks you for something you just give it to him, and be glad you are still breathing after the fact.

A double murder was committed in Malibu. The son of a friend has been arrested by the police. Even though Seymour was found at the scene of the crime, leaning over the bodies, and possibly covered in blood, he has one other strike against him. The men dead were white. Seymour is black. Even though there was no weapon found, the police are considering the case closed.

Joe wants Easy to clear the boy of the chargers.

Easy's case was nothing open and shut to begin with. As he gets closer to the truth, he discovers the old adage is more true. The more he probes for the right answers, the more danger his life is in. Thankfully, Easy rarely works alone, and with friends like Fearless Jones at his side, sometimes it is the thugs who better watch out instead of Easy!

If you enjoy dark, gritty, noir-style novels, Walter Mosley is an author you need to be reading. I've said it before, though. You can certainly jump right in and read the 14th Easy novel, CHARCOAL JOE, but I highly recommend starting at the beginning, going back to DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS and savor the characters as they grow and bond with you from book, to book, to book.

Phillip Tomasso
Author of the Severed Empire Series,
and The Vaccination Trilogy

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