Devil In A Blue Dress

If you are a conservative Christian who does not want to read swear words, you can stop reading NOW.

For the rest of us, Walter Mosely created a character with crust and grit. Ezeikel Easy Rawlins has a house in Watts just three years after helping Patton kick Heiny butt. Growing up poor in the Fifth Ward of Huston did not prepare him for the pure joy of owning property.

Making the payments became the issue when he was unfairly laid off at the factory. A friend sets him up with a short gig–finding a white girl in one of the black bars in the city. You see, Easy was black too, or to be fair to 1948, he was a Negro.

The book was first released in 1990, followed by a baker’s dozen others. Denzel Washington played Easy in the 1995 film version.

Why should you read this book?

It is a great slice of history describing the beginnings of the racial divide that has found Watts on the national news many times. I took a sociology class in the fall of 1965 in which we studied in some detail the findings of the August riot of that August–the “Burn, Baby, Burn” riots. After living through sit-ins and Selma, it was still an eye-opener for a milk-toast Kansas boy. Of course, worse was yet to come.

You should read this for the characters. None of them are righteous and none are pure evil, though you might wonder about a couple of them.

But also try to understand the complex relationships these people have with one another. Easy has friends from Huston to help him in LA, some of whom only help for money, some for friendship, some only when they benefit. Easy must walk a fine line to decide who he can really trust.

Read it because Easy is not perfect. He learned to kill people–blue-eyed German boys–but he wants to avoid killing. He did not like it in the war and he still does not like it. Still, he is surrounded by it in the story.

Many would argue that this is not a Christian novel. I disagree. It is not religious, but that is something else. It is Christian in that Easy wants to do what is right. He is willing to place himself in mortal danger to help others. He is not a cynic. He hopes to be paid, but if you read closely, he is willing to do the right thing without pay.

Easy is a product of black poverty, but he doesn’t want that history to drag him down.

I look forward to more of Easy Rawlins.

Mike Lawrence

Moriarty

Any Sherlock fan will want to read this book. Horowitz received the approval of the Conan Doyle Estate for this story, thus the seal at the top of the cover. The book was first published in 2014 and follows The House of Silk, a Sherlock novel.

Moriarty is not a Sherlock novel but is written in Doyle’s style to explain what really happened at Reichenbach Falls. The person telling the story is a Pinkerton agent from New York who teams up with an Inspector from Scotland Yard to track down Clarence Devereux, the American version of Moriarty.

They first meet over the body of a man fished out of the river. the Inspector determines that the body is that of Moriarty. They discover a note written in code asking for a meeting between Moriarty and Devereux in two days time.

That note sends them on the chase after Devereux. Along the way, they investigate the mysterious and brutal deaths of a household of Devereux lieutenants. They chase two more lieutenants before the inspector and agent face certain death at Devereux’s hand.

Horowitz is a master craftsman of mysteries and thrillers. He created and wrote one of my favorite TV series (on PBS in the US), Foyle’s War. He wrote episodes for Poirot, Murder in Mind, Midsomer Murders and Murder Most Horrid, all British shows and many shown on PBS. Alex Rider is his most successful book series. There are many others that you can look up.

If you want to know how to write a mystery, Horowitz is a great author to study. He uses many styles to achieve the same end: to keep us reading. For this book, he channeled Canon Doyle. For the Rider series, he writes action like Die Hard. In Foyle’s War, DCI Foyle (played by Michael Kitchen) was so low key you might suspect he had no clue, but then his eyes would open a bit, or look around the room, and you knew he knew. Horowitz maintained our attention by dangling many story bits in front of us, without much action, and then have Foyle make the arrest.

Back to Moriarty. It is a great read. The ending was a shocker, but not out of character.

Mike Lawrence