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Devil in a Blue Dress: Featuring an Original Easy Rawlins Short Story "Crimson Stain" [Paperback]

Walter Mosley
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 17 2002 Easy Rawlins Mysteries
Devil in a Blue Dress, a defining novel in Walter Mosley’s bestselling Easy Rawlins mystery series, was adapted into a TriStar Pictures film starring Denzel Washington as Easy Rawlins and Don Cheadle as Mouse.

Set in the late 1940s, in the African-American community of Watts, Los Angeles, Devil in a Blue Dress follows Easy Rawlins, a black war veteran just fired from his job at a defense plant. Easy is drinking in a friend's bar, wondering how he'll meet his mortgage, when a white man in a linen suit walks in, offering good money if Easy will simply locate Miss Daphne Monet, a blonde beauty known to frequent black jazz clubs.

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Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins has few illusions about the world--at least not about the world of a young black veteran in the late 1940s in Southern California. His stint in the Army didn't do anything to dissuade him from his belief that justice doesn't come cheap, especially for men like him. "I thought there might be some justice for a black man if he had money to grease it," Easy says. Fired from his job on the line at an aircraft plant, he's in danger of losing his home, symbol of his tenuous hold on middle class status. That's a good enough reason to accept a white man's offer to pay him for finding a beautiful, mysterious Frenchwoman named Daphne Monet, last seen in the company of a well-known gangster. Easy's search takes the reader to an L.A. few writers have shown us before--the mean streets of South Central, the after-hours joints in dirty basement clubs, the cheap hotels and furnished rooms, the places people go when they don't want to be found. Evocative of a past time, and told in a style that's reminiscent of Hammet and Chandler, yet uniquely his own, Mosley's depiction of an inherently decent man in a violent world of intrigue and corruption rang up big sales when it was published in 1990 (although the movie version, with Denzel Washington as Easy, never found the audience it deserved). The minor characters are deftly and brilliantly developed, especially Mouse, who saves Easy's life even as he draws him deeper into the mystery of Daphne Monet. Like many of Mosley's characters, Mouse makes a return appearance in the succeeding Easy Rawlins mysteries, such as A Red Death, Black Betty, and White Butterfly, every one of which is as good as Devil in a Blue Dress, his first. --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Reissue of the first book in Moseley's Easy Rawlins mystery series, in which Easy is hired to track down a woman who disappeared with someone else's money.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Detective novel Aug. 28 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I didn't like this book, mainly because their was too much explicit sex in it. A little bit is okay, but when every page is filled with it, I don't enjoy the book. Take that out, and the plot was okay.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fine Noir Thriller Feb. 8 2012
By James A. Anderson TOP 1000 REVIEWER
I read this book for a book club discussion and it introduced me to the work of Walter Mosley.

A fine noir look at LA in the 1940s which doesn't pull any punches. Racism, brutal cops, the seedy underbelly of L.A. My only problem with the book was understanding some of the street dialogue. That improved with a second reading.

Mosley has a finely plotted novel here with great characters, realistic dialogue and a twist ending that catches you by surprise. A good start to a series of Easy Rawlins books. Easy is a likeable, decent chap caught up in circumstances beyond his control.

Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Amazing! April 2 2004
By A Customer
This book is truly a masterpiece. The characters are amazing and the story is great. This is the kind of book that you can visualize in your head, you can see every scene occuring. I read this book in one sitting, I couldn't put it down. From the begining to the end--perfection!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Murder and Temptation in 1948 Los Angeles Aug. 1 2003
"Devil in a Blue Dress" takes the reader to post-War Los Angeles, a city burgeoning with new industry and opportunity in 1948. The hero is Ezekiel "Easy" Rollins, a war veteran who came to L.A. for sunshine and good jobs, but now finds himself laid off and in danger of losing his home. A friend introduces him to a sleazy character named DeWitt Albright, who offers Easy the opportunity to make some money fast. Albright is looking for a woman named Daphne Monet. In a city that is largely socially segregated, Miss Monet, who is white, frequents black night clubs and has black friends -some of the same clubs and friends as Easy. Whether in desperation or out of pride, Easy accepts the job and sets out to find her. His search takes him on a tour of the city's shadows: underground jazz clubs, bootleggers and blackmailers, political corruption, and finally to the irresistible and mysterious Daphne Monet.
"Devil in a Blue Dress" is a pleasant, brisk read. Walter Mosley paints a colorful and intriguing picture of post-War Los Angeles. And his prose effectively expresses the fear and temptation that constantly compete for Easy Rollins' psyche. Easy Rollins is a working class detective who is lent a certain romanticism and distinction by the time and place in which the novel is set. This combination of qualities make Easy an ideal detective novel protagonist who will appeal to a wide array of readers. The character of Daphne Monet is less than believable, I'm afraid. But it is more essential that she be sexy and mysterious than that she be believed, so it is not a serious flaw. "Devil in a Blue Dress" has a little of everything -a likable hero, period ambiance, hard-boiled dialogue, sex, violence, mystery- without losing its focus. It won't appeal to fans of "cozies ", but most mystery buffs will find something enjoyable in it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good July 30 2003
I read this particular novel in about a week and at first it seemed slow, but towards the middle part of the book my interest started to peak. The protagonist Easy Rawlins a fired aircraft worker and WWII veteran gets pulled into a world of deceit by a person he perceives to be a good friend. Easy is hired to look for a woman by the name of Daphne Monet, but everyone he comes in contact with that could possible help him is murdered. Finally Easy starts putting the pieces of the puzzle together with his long time friend Mouse and in the end everything makes sense. The books tangles a serious web of deception which is rather interesting. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Don't be fooled, this novel is not that great May 20 2003
While most of the preceding critics of Mosley's mystery rave about this and that, my opinion on the literary merit rates about average. While it is an entertaining mystery to most, the underlying themes and syntax are suitable merely for the high school freshman.
The main character, Easy Rawlins, virtuously overcomes the social injustices of racial prejudice blacks faced at the time while also noting similar bigotry against the WWII Jews. The mystery holds suspense but the plot line overall is not fully satisfying. Overall I was bored reading it, and the class discussions I participated in (I am a student at UCR) were less than lively.
The part about this book that I hated most is that it portrays the white man in disgusting fashion. All the white characters Easy Rawlins meets are somehow seriously flawed. They are either homosexual, racist gangsters, filthy-rich love-crazed maniacs, teenage bigots, liquour store black market operators, etc. There is not a decent white man among them, and Easy's attitude of self-restraint, although admirable, further paints a dirty picture of the white man. Why can't there be at least one white man that has any admirable characteristics? It makes it seem like Mosely targeted a black audience rather than trying to appeal to all demographics.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enter Easy Rawlings April 19 2003
Devil in a Blue Dress established Walter Mosely's reputation as a master of the mystery genre. The creation of Easy, the murderous Mouse, the seductive Daphne and the setting within the Black community transformed the novel from merely a whodunit into an elegant commentary on race. But if that weren't enough, read any page of this novel or any other book by Mosely (esp. Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned) and see how he controls the narrative and description. What is even more fascinating is to watch Mosely's growth in the series to where he tackles the big subjects like guilt and redemption in American life
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Book, But Hardly A Masterpiece
The first Easy Rawlins book is more enjoyable for its physical and cultural setting than it is for its mystery or characters. Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2003 by A. Ross
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read with a unique cast of characters
This is an excellent example of why Walter Mosely's books are becoming 'cult' classics. A great cast of characters, including of course the hero 'Easy', and a plot that although a... Read more
Published on Dec 24 2002
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat overwritten, but I've seen much worse.
Walter Mosley, Devil in a Blue Dress (Pocket, 1990)

Walter Mosley's first novel featuring detective Easy Rawlins is a good one; the characters are well-drawn, the plot... Read more
Published on Sept. 25 2002 by Robert Beveridge
2.0 out of 5 stars Lot of fuss over nothing
What is the fuss all about.
I picked this up ,read two thirds of it at one sitting.
It ain't much,believe me. Chandler won't be losing any long sleep over this. Read more
Published on Sept. 16 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars A Slumming Angel
This book was our introduction to Ezekiel Rawlins, 'Easy' as his only real friend calls him. It is fast moving and very complex in a bare bones kind of way. Read more
Published on Sept. 7 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars Post-War Era Brought To Life
The year is 1948 and Easy Rawlins has just lost his job. Seemingly coming to his rescue with an offer of some good money for a simple job comes the shady character Dewitt Albright. Read more
Published on July 29 2002 by Untouchable
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