Walter Mosley | Critical Review by George Pelecanos

This literature criticism consists of approximately 2 pages of analysis & critique of Walter Mosley.
This section contains 504 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by George Pelecanos

Critical Review by George Pelecanos

SOURCE: A review of White Butterfly, in The Armchair Detective, Vol. 26, No. 1, Winter, 1993, p. 113.

Pelecanos is an American fiction writer. In the following review, he notes that in White Butterfly, Easy Rawlins faces more danger from his "psychological demons" than from the numerous hazards of his trade.

In the Los Angeles Watts district of 1956, women are being murdered and mutilated by an apparent serial killer. The cops are aware of the murders but not in any great hurry to see the killer brought to justice. The victims were only good-time girls, junkies and whores. More to the point, the victims were only black.

But when a Caucasian victim with a similar m. o. turns up, a young "exotic" dancer known by the professional name of White Butterfly, the heat is on to find the killer. The cops turn to reluctant detective Easy Rawlins for help.

Rawlins, a black man who has seen his share of hardship, is not one to cooperate with the predominately white police force of L.A. But the cops are putting the screws to Rawlins' best friend Mouse, and he takes the case.

Rawlins goes back into White Butterfly's world and follows her sordid descent, from the rancid flophouses to the once-grand jazz and blues clubs of Bone Street. The trail takes him up the coast to Oakland, where he witnesses the death of a man who the police believe to be the killer. He's convinced, however, that there are deeper secrets to be learned from the young girls' deaths, and when the parents of White Butterfly hire him to find their born-out-of-wedlock granddaughter, he agrees, knowing full well that what he finds will take him even closer to the mouth of death.

Easy Rawlins will encounter his share of tangible villains, but in White Butterfly it is his psychological demons that pose the greatest threat. There are his clandestine real estate holdings, and the men who want a piece of the action. There are the deadly acquaintances of his past. And there are the ghosts of the dead, some who have passed at the hands of Rawlins, who follow him around L.A.'s streets. As Rawlins struggles to maintain his temper and dignity in a racist society, he must also sustain a relationship with his beautiful wife Regina, their infant daughter Edna, and his adopted son Jesus. Rawlins is a torn, volatile man who increasingly uses alcohol as a crutch, and it's plain that his life is threatening to fly apart, quite violently, at any minute.

This is the third book in Walter Mosley's superior series, and a high-water mark at that. The first half of White Butterfly is slow by thriller standards, but this is deliberate—here the author is carefully creating a fictional world that is alive with convincing intriguing, full-bodied characters. And for those with a taste for hardboiled action, and a bit of patience, the last half of the book delivers the goods. White Butterfly is a rock solid thriller that has the feel of permanence.

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This section contains 504 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by George Pelecanos
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