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    Review of LITTLE GREEN by Walter Mosley


    Doubleday, May 2013

    Private Detective Easy Rawlings has been in a coma for months after an auto accident/attempted suicide. Now, he's waking up and his friend, Mouse, needs a favor. Mouse asks Easy to find a missing teenage boy and the quest sends Easy into the streets of Los Angeles in 1967. Easy discovers hippies, drug dealers, free love, and racism as he tries to track down the missing Evander, AKA 'Little Green.' Easy isn't even close to being recovered from his injuries and relies on voodoo drugs supplied by Mama Jo.

    Easy's experiences are largely shaped by the color of his skin. While he holds a valid private detective license, whites (both cops and others) suspect him, and he has to worry that cops will shoot first if they see a gun (and when he kills a white man, he knows beyond question that the truth... that he simply defended himself... will not protect him. The setting, mostly near downtown L.A. in 1967, is powerful. The Watts riots, two years earlier, ripple through the story. Easy's perspective on the riots... that they were an early effort on the part of blacks to fight back against oppression (earlier race riots were mostly whites attacking minorities) was new to me. His take on the L.A. hippie movement was also intriguing (and positive).

    Walter Mosley (see more reviews of mysteries by Mosley) continues his Easy Rawlings series with a story that's compelling (I read it almost continuously), offers great insights into at least one man's take on a crucial time in U.S. and California history (Mosley would have been an early teen during the Watts riots and the hippie era in L.A but the story and setting ring true). Easy Rawlings, with his connections to black mobsters (Mouse) and to the white power structure makes a great bridge character for white readers to gain an understanding of at least a part of the black experience in the 1960s.

    Walter Mosley combines story-telling with message and I'm a fan. There were a few times when I thought he was beating the race issue a bit much... and where we could have used more story. But race really is at the center of the story. I don't think LITTLE GREEN is quite as powerful as Mosley at his best, but it's a good story, enjoyable reading, and offers intriguing perspectives into a world of the not-very-distant past... a past that we didn't do a very good job resolving and that left us with issues that we continue to wrestle with.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 2/29/12

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