Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley

Devil coverIt’s been a long while since I read Devil in a Blue Dress. Since reading it sometime in the late 1990s, I’ve followed Easy Rawlins through all of Mosley’s sequels. I enjoyed getting to know him again in his first appearance on the mystery scene.

The plot is complex. Rawlins, newly unemployed in LA needs cash to pay his mortgage. He’s a homeowner, has joined the black middle class and wants to stay there. A bar owner friend introduces him to DeWitt Albright, a white man who’s looking for a white woman. Needing the money, but concerned about the setup, Easy is a reluctant detective. That reluctance increases as he finds out there’s way more to the story than finding a young woman. Albright isn’t who he claims to be. Acquaintances drop dead, leaving Easy as a suspect and exposing him to the racist LA detectives. It only with the help of his Houston friend Mouse that Easy escapes the trap set for him.

Race permeates this book as it does all of  Mosley’s mysteries. Easy is forced to walk the line that separates white from black LA and that line is a dangerous line. The police is an ever present threat and even so-called “friends of the negro” turn their back once they got what they wanted. The very core of this mystery is the ultimate indictment of race as a social classification. But you’ll have to read it to see why.

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