L.A. Weekly is determining the best L.A. novel ever by holding a tournament featuring 32 of our favorites in head-to-head matchups, until there's only one novel standing. For further reading:
*Best L.A. Novel Ever: The Tournament Brackets
*Best L.A. Novel Ever: More Matchups
Ezekiel "Easy" Porterhouse Rawlins and Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch traipse across the Los Angeles landscape, both surrounded by rotten cops who target them for murders they didn't do and a system so out of whack it's a miracle Los Angeles doesn't implode. Separated by a generation in time, Rawlins, a seething black man mired in the post-War racism that makes him ever-wary to leave Watts, is just the sort of fundamentally decent lawbreaker that white cop Bosch would seek out to learn the truth.
Walter Mosley, in his bestselling 1990 novel Devil in a Blue Dress, gives us Easy Rawlins as an object lesson in the racial divide circa 1948. Easy is a man of violence and promiscuity who continually befriends black murderers, whores and low-lifes -- but puts himself in greater danger by responding to questions from a white girl on Santa Monica Pier.
Easy is no detective, just an aerospace worker fired from a construction team that built airplane wings. But he accepts money to search for the stunning Daphne Monet, even though he knows that if he finds Daphne he'll almost certainly put the blue-clad beauty in terrible danger.
Easy, turned into a killer by World War II and haunted by "the voice," is on a parallel mission to hit back at bigots, as he does when a white front-office man doesn't believe that Easy has an appointment with a man-about-town who is seeking Daphne.
I shook my head at him. I would have liked to rip the skin from his face like I'd done once to another white boy. ... I was disgusted. "Forget it man," I said. "You just tell him, when you see him, that Mr. Rawlins was here. You tell him that the next time he better give me a note because you cain't be lettin' no street niggahs comin' in yo' place wit' no notes!"
As Easy is drawn into an underworld of child sex slavery, incest and greed, he never loses that racial anger -- but now he's got lives to save, and reluctantly takes on as a partner his old friend Mouse, a murderer and psycho.More »