AUTHOR WALTER MOSLEY
LITTLE , BROWN AND COMPANY HARDCOVERS @ $36.95 CAN
An Alex Grant Review
'one of the most appealing partnerships in modern-day "period"
Buy it here
new period Los Angeles crime novel by Walter Mosley this is his
8th full-length such mystery and his second devoted to the highly convoluted
exploits of timid book-seller Paris Minton and his WW2 hero friend Tristan
"Fearless" Jones is always a treat.
Mosley began his first cycle of post-WW2 thrillers with the
"Easy Rawlins" quintet, which ended with A LIITLE YELLOW DOG.
Then he penned a trio of truly eccentric short-story crime/underworld
collections: two devoted to randy ex-con Socrates Fortlow and one to
Rawlins. Books that had the idiosyncratic and beguiling rhythm of the
blues, and were an eye-opener of the gentlest kind to the racism that
lay under every black-white human encounter in a lovingly depicted L.A.
that sprang to immediate life and that exposed a thriving black community
hidden away against all odds.
Yet again this Fearless Jones novel introduces us to an astonishing
parade of black Americans struggling to succeed in 1955 California.
A flabbergasting plot has Minton and Jones looking for a valuable sapphire
and emerald necklace, an heirloom belonging to the wealthy Winifred
Fine whose ownership of a host of intersection vacant lots brings her
the unwanted attentions of a greedy vengeful white tycoon whose two
adult children have been tortured and slain by persons unknown. An assortment
of brutal thugs try to abduct and beat the truth out of milquetoast,
Paris little knowing that he has stumbled across the real treasure:
a C17th book begun by literate slaves in the hope of never losing a
written record and a permanent heritage of their own tribulations in
the New World.
This third installment of the series of mysteries that succeeded the
Easy Rawlins one is little different from the first template : an ordinary
guy who cannot resist a little derring-do teams up with a truly tough
( " Mouse" in the Rawlins series ) who is also chivalrous
and gentlemanly despite a lack of formal education. A man gifted with
intuition though any complicated human exchange is beyond him. In the
real world such seemingly simple but astonishingly insightful people
do of course exist but they have been sidelined by higher education
and a low tolerance for folk-wisdom and the profound natural empathy
that humanity has always fostered between its members left to their
The psychological subtlety of FEAR ITSELF lies in the dreadful conflict
stirred up by the ancient tome in Mintons soul. He longs to retain
this invaluable record but knows. that he could be on Easy Street with
the price offered for it .Fearless would never suffer any such conscience
pangs. That is the charm and impetus behind one of the most appealing
partnerships in modern-day "period" mystery fiction.
© Alex Grant June 2003
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