Easy Rawlins's situation develops the theme of alienation between the African American community and the government, especially those employees charged with upholding the law.
Racism, according to the novel's premise, is the fundamental cause for discord. Easy's distaste for the government is apparent in his reaction to the building which houses the Internal Revenue Service. "It almost looked friendly from the outside, not like the government at all." When he is summoned to an interview, the clerical help behave rudely.
The investigating IRS agent, Reginald Lawrence, is a white man whose disrespect for Easy is clear. "The way he called me son instead of my name returned me to southern Texas," Easy remarks, "days when the slightest error in words could hold dire consequences for a black man." The agent's racist approach, which clarifies as the mystery unfolds, is matched by that of white police officers.