Walter Mosley | Critical Review by Charles Champlin

This literature criticism consists of approximately 2 pages of analysis & critique of Walter Mosley.
This section contains 373 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by Charles Champlin

Critical Review by Charles Champlin

SOURCE: "Criminal Pursuits," in Los Angeles Times Book Review, July 14, 1991, p. 9.

Champlin is an American author, columnist, and critic. In the following excerpt, he remarks that A Red Death shows the success of Mosley's first book "was no accident. The new novel may be even better in its complexity and range."

Walter Mosley's Devil in a Blue Dress won a well-deserved Mystery Writers of American nomination as the best first novel of 1990. His portrait of Ezekiel (Easy) Rawlins, a kind of reluctant and unofficial private investigator trying to stay alive and loose in Watts, had the ear-perfect dialogue, the eye-perfect observance and the narrative drive of, say, the work of Elmore Leonard. But the book had, additionally, the authority of the view from inside South-Central Los Angeles, looking out.

Mosley's second book, A Red Death, confirms that the first was no accident. The new novel may be even better in its complexity and range. The period is the '50s of the Cold War and feverish anti-communism. Easy, who made some money last time, has parlayed it into houses whose ownership he has tried to conceal with insufficiently fancy footwork.

Between them, an IRS agent and an FBI man coerce him into spying on a foreign-born white man doing good works in Watts, clearly a subversive. Caught between a good man he likes and two men he distrusts, Easy looks to lose everything, from his pride to his holdings to his life. The first-person narrative suggests Easy will eventually be OK; then again, you could come to an incomplete sentence.

Mosley, who now lives in New York but knows Watts like an after-hours bartender, creates characters—men, women and children—who are vivid, individual and as honest as home movies. Easy, who can kill if he needs to, is at heart compassionate, nonviolent and an eloquent commentator.

"I didn't even believe in history, really," he says. "Real was what was happening to me right then. Real was a toothache and a man you trusted who did you dirt. Real was an empty stomach or a woman saying yes, or a woman saying no. Real was what you could feel."

Mosley is a new, strong and original voice, here to stay and not to be missed.

(read more)

This section contains 373 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Review by Charles Champlin
Follow Us on Facebook