From Publishers Weekly
In this eagerly anticipated follow-up to Fearless Jones (2001), Watts bookstore owner Paris Minton and the dangerous but principled Fearless Jones tread the familiar territory mapped so successfully by Mosley's original detecting duo, Easy Rawlins and Raymond "Mouse" Alexander. The author depicts 1950s Los Angeles with his usual unerring accuracy, but a somewhat different dynamic drives his heroes. When Fearless drags the reluctant Paris into helping him look for Kit Mitchell (aka the Watermelon Man), their quest turns quickly murderous. Timid bookworm Paris gets caught in a deadly game of hide-and-seek whose players deal in lead, money and lies and include members of the fractured and fractious family of millionaire black businesswoman Winifred L. Fine. Neither Fearless nor Paris is sure who or what the various seekers are after-the missing Mitchell, a fabulous emerald pendant or a family diary-only that it's valued more than the lives lost trying to find it. A desire to aid his friend Fearless initially motivates Paris, but his journey becomes a voyage of self-discovery. While Paris possesses a narrative voice that's more literate and middle-class than that of the street-smart Easy, it should still resonate with Mosley's legions of fans.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
There's a fun conceit in the name of Mosley's Fearless Jones series: its namesake is not the protagonist but the protagonist's best friend. Simplifying the stability-versus-chaos dichotomy of Easy Rawlins and his friend Mouse (heroes of Mosley's most popular series), narrator Paris Minton is the brains to Fearless' brawn. Even more interesting, the deadly ex-soldier Fearless is good-natured and generous, while Paris, a scrawny bookseller and self-admitted coward, can be abrasive and self-serving. In the second installment, a nighttime knock on the door begins a complicated caper that starts with a missing person and ends with a half-dozen parties fighting over a valuable book. Fear Itself
is infused with Mosley's typical thoughtfulness and telling details, although it's not quite as successful as his previous mysteries. Readers who love Mosley for his politics, settings, and characters may feel stinted by the generous plot machinations, which unfold largely in dialogue and employ so many characters that we don't get to know many of them well. And there's a central paradox that's addressed but not solved: if Paris is such a scaredy-cat, why does he keep plunging further into danger? After a slow beginning, the ending just misses being great when a last twist softens what would have been a perfect noir judgment on Paris. Not Mosley's best, but still plenty good. Keir GraffCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved