Doubleday, $25.95, 291 pages, ISBN 978-0-385-53598-4
I’m asked, from time to time, Why bother reading fiction? A number of answers spring to mind, such as; to entertain myself; to see how other people think; to educate myself by associating with smart people among others. But the best reason I can think of to read fiction right now is, to develop empathy for our fellow human beings. Put another way, it would be “to walk a mile in the other guy’s shoes.” And there isn’t a writer anywhere, alive or dead, who can, (in my humble opinion) make us feel more empathy than Walter Mosley and his iconic black detective named Easy Rawlins in 1960s Los Angeles, California.
Little Green, by Walter Mosley is number twelve in his Easy Rawlins series, which began in 1990 with Devil in a Blue Dress, and is his forty-first novel overall. He is a master wordsmith whose ability to put the reader on the spot with, and in the mind of his protagonists, is unsurpassed. After reading a Walter Mosley novel, the reader will not only know what it is to be black, but what it felt like to be black in the 1960’s. As Little Green begins, Easy Rawlins is in a partial coma, the result of an automobile accident that may not have been a true mishap, but an attempted suicide. When he awakes he thinks he is dead. Barely awake and out of his coma, he is asked by his friend and ally, Raymond “Mouse” Alexander to find a twenty year old boy named Evander Noon . . . a boy that Mouse calls Little Green . . . who Rawlins thinks might be Mouse’s son. Unhealed from his car wreck and barely able to move, Easy relies on a potion called “Gator’s Blood” which he gets from a Juju woman called Mama Jo, to give him enough strength to carry on with his search for the missing Evander through the LA of 1967; the hippie movement, the burgeoning, nascent drug scene and the vicious Southern California underworld, because it seems that, along with Evander, a large amount of something in bloody burlap bags is also missing. With beautifully constructed paragraphs such as this one on page seventy-three where Easy muses:
I wore death on my shoulders like a superhero’s cape, but that didn’t matter. I was going to fight the good fight and, win or lose I’d be counted as a man who struggled against his own fate.
Walter Mosley is a world-class talent who writes like an angel and thinks like the devil! Don’t pass up the opportunity to acquaint yourself with one of our modern masters. All crime fiction enthusiasts should read and know the work of Walter Mosley. He is a modern giant in the field.