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Blonde Faith: An Easy Rawlins Novel

by Walter Mosley

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Blonde Faith: An Easy Rawlins Novel
Along with mystery fiction that is smoothly told and driven by raw emotional content, Mosley will always treat you to a lesson in black culture - from the perspective of a man with racial issues that are so organic they're the red blood cells that permeate his text and form the subtext. But, his anger and protest against injustice is but one frayed thread in a complex weave of mystery and fear.

In Blonde Faith, the tenth, and one of his more engaging (if more despairing) Easy Rawlins novels, he composes a case fertile with beautiful women who would have him in bed and homicidal men who would put him in his grave. And, through it all, to an extent greater than ever before, Easy is more phobic about his best friend Mouse than he may ever have been before.

Among other compromises the esteemed P.I. has to make concerning the man he respects and admires above all others, it's his friend's murderous and highly illegal ways. It isn't easy for an upholder of the law to embrace acts of theft and murder, but Rawlins' pragmatic street sensibilities enables him to accept the occasional killing of real bad guys outside the constraints (and possible incarcerations) of the system. Sometimes, it's righteous... and the only way to stay alive.
The case begins for Rawlins at a time he can think of nothing else but his recently departed live-in lover Bonnie Shay - departed from his household at his insistence after she'd been unfaithful - even though the other man in the equation was instrumental in saving Rawlin's 11-year-old adopted daughter Feather's life. Second thoughts are a natural reaction but, now, sitting alone in his driveway wracked by a feeling of emptiness and regret, having just rescued a 16-year-old neighbor's girl from a life of prostitution, he dreams about his ex-lover's "milky breath and the spiced teas she brewed," and the lilt of her Guyanese accent.

Battering himself with the contradictions of emotions vs. reality, the desire to get his Bonnie back blooming into an obsession, the investigator enters his house to find petite eight-year-old Easter Dawn Black, the adopted daughter of Christmas Black - a man whose kill rates and tendency to deny mercy may equal or exceed Mouse's. In fact, Christmas and Mouse are tight friends and might be hiding out together considering their simultaneous disappearances. "He said that you would know how long I had to stay," little E.D. offers up to Easy's blank stare. But, Easy has no idea why, let alone how long, and his concerns are about to explode into a pile-up of volatile motivations and sinister mysteries.
EttaMae Harris, Mouse's woman, tells Easy that he's got to find Mouse (aka, Raymond Alexander) because the police are looking for him for the presumed murder of "some fool name'a" Pericles Tarr, who went missing the day after Mouse did. Unless he does as Etta commands, Easy knows, his friend is likely to become the latest person to die by cop. Finding Mouse, then, is assignment number three, just behind the protection of his own family and trying to stop thinking about Bonnie.

First stop for the investigator is Black's home to see if he can pick up any clues, and this is where things start getting dicey. The Black residence is immaculate, and empty. After a thorough inspection, he lounges on a tan couch going over things in his mind and reveling in the realization that the case is, at least, distracting him from Bonnie, who has just called him to say she's marrying her new man. Suddenly, breaking his revery, three white, uniformed men enter the apartment looking for Christmas.

After a few threats, lies about jurisdiction and mind games, "Captain" Clarence Miles pays Easy a retainer to help him find Christmas Black. For Easy's part, it's better to be seen as in the employ of what might be a rogue unit of military criminals than step into a new enemy's crosshairs, giving him time to coax out their game, and their motives. But there's no doubt that there's something going on here beneath the surface, and it smells of criminal psychosis, high stakes and rampant brutality.
Later, when he has realized the probable source of a growing number of homicides, he heads out for a revisit to Faith Laneer, a rare white woman in his acquaintance who understands his melancholy. But, she is also a key witness, and the thing he hadn't yet understood was her dire need for protection.

Charged with life-altering decision-making, fear and regret, Mosley not only maintains a relentless level of suspense with a story structure that moves within a balance of internal and external dynamics, but caps it with a brilliantly contrived climactic showdown featuring the astute use of a beebee gun. The satisfaction of this moment pays off our collusion in Easy Rawlins' approach to justice. As though that weren't enough, a cliffhanging twist at the end could be the foreshadowing of something highly consequential for the entire series.
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