Devil In A Blue Dress Hardcover – Jun 1 1990
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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
This jaunty crime novel, set in L.A. in 1948, introduces Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins, a recently laid-off mechanic who is young, black and--but for the need to meet the mortgage on his new house--a most reluctant sleuth. Easy hails originally from the tough Fifth Ward in Houston; he served his country, landing on the Normandy Beach. He knows racism firsthand and seeing too many white men in one day unnerves him. But a white businessman, Dewitt Albright, engages Easy to locate a beautiful French woman named Daphne Monet who has a "predilection for the company of negroes." She also has $30,000 of someone else's money. Easy becomes entangled in a chain of events that takes him to bar after bar to meet a range of characters, most of whom are seeking their own advantages in the pursuit of Daphne. With bodies piling up, there is no turning back for Easy, as he is dogged by brutish white cops and a few "brothers" none too friendly. The language is hard-boiled ("Somewhere between the foo young and the check I decided to cut my losses") and the portrait of black city life gritty and real. But the first-person narrative, which hurtles along with improbable transitions and sketchy psychological portraits, leaves the reader winded rather than exhilarated at the book's predictable conclusion. 25,000 first printing; $25,000 ad/promo; movie rights to Reuben Cannon ; Mysterious Book Club and QPB selections.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
"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.
In noir fashion, the mystery is fairly complicated, perhaps overly so with a number of minor characters who run together. As events move beyond Easy's grasp, he has to call on his old friend from Houston, Mouse, to help him out. Mouse is a thoroughly nasty bit of work, and there's some good tension between him and Easy. Ultimately, the "big" twist at the end isn't that surprising. The book is so thoroughly steeped in race that it's the only plausible solution to a number of thorny questions.
As an average hardworking black man, just trying to live with dignity in a racist world, Easy is well-drawn and sympathetic. What doesn't work as well is when he hears "the voice" inside his head, which appears at moments of stress and urges him not to take any [...] and stand up for himself. It's a device that's remarkably amateurish, given the solid control Mosley exhibits over the rest of the narrative.Read more ›
A white man Easy doesn't quite trust is willing to pay a hefty sum to find her. But finding her may not be Easy's only problem as someone is out to kill him and he calls on his old friend Mouse to watch his back. Mouse is sharply drawn by Mosley as an amoral yet likeable killer, deadly as an enemy, unequaled as a friend.
Easy is a decent man who understands his world but doesn't like it. He is one of the great characters in American detective fiction, on a par with Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer, and like Archer, more comfortable as an observer of human cruelty and frailty than a participant. His attraction to the beautiful white girl when he finds her, and his uneasiness about what is really going on here, and why, leads to money and murder, and everyone might just have underestimated Easy.
It is a complex and riveting story you can't put down. It's about a good man in a not good world, trying to detatch himself from it, and finding it is part of who he is. Mosley's "Mouse" is unforgettable and would become to Easy what Hawk is to Spenser in this wonderful and ever changing series that spans decades.
Daphne has more to hide in this novel than just money, and it's truth is the impetus for everything that happens. There is murder here, and greed, and something Easy has seen way to much of, even for a black man in post WWII Los Angeles, sorrow.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
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... Read morePublished on April 2 2004
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. Read morePublished on July 30 2003 by P. A Lewis
While most of the preceding critics of Mosley's mystery rave about this and that, my opinion on the literary merit rates about average. Read morePublished on May 20 2003 by Amazon Customer
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... Read morePublished on April 19 2003 by Geoffrey Philp
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 morePublished on Dec 24 2002
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
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