LITTLE GREEN by Walter Mosley
It’s been six long years since Easy Rawlins drove his car off a cliff at the end of Blond Ambition. I honestly thought we’d seen the last of Easy, and I lamented his loss at the time, and I’ve thought fondly of him over the years since. Thankfully, Walter Mosley wasn’t finished with the character, and – quite frankly – I hope he never is.
For me, Easy Rawlins is an old friend, the kind of man I aspire to be in some ways, and definitely a role model for surviving adversity. Although I come from a different time and place than Easy, it’s awfully simple to pick up the threads of his worries and his struggles. Maybe I haven’t faced the things he has, but I sense in him a tattered kindred spirit. Life is a hard, uncertain thing, and Mosley and Easy drive that home in every story.
This novel is not just a return for Easy, it’s a resurrection. As far as he knows, he died when he drove off that cliff. Only his best friend and most dangerous man he knows, Mouse (Raymond Alexander), climbed down after him after being sent by a voodoo priestess, then carried Easy back up the mountain. Mouse didn’t do it entirely for sentimental reasons: he has a mission he wants Easy to undertake, and it’s going to have dire consequences for both of them.
Although getting Easy back on his feet and in fighting trim after two months of lying comatose is an incredible stretch, I wanted to believe Mama Jo’s “Gator’s Blood” had the power to return him to full vigor for brief periods as it does. That facet of the story kind of turns Easy into a superhero, but I was all right with that.
Following along in Easy’s steps as he tries to find a young man who’s gone missing is a lot of fun. Mosley has a good grip on 1960s Los Angeles just as he had a nice take on 1940s Los Angeles when the series began in Devil in a Blue Dress. This time the investigation sweeps through the hippie movement filling the city, and Mosley draws some stirring comparisons between African-American and hippies at the time.
There’s plenty of action to keep the edge on the story, but it’s Easy return to life, to the twisted threads he’d left behind, that truly kept me hooked. I walked in his shadow as the novel progressed, and I sorted through all the memories and people he and I have met through the pages of the previous books. Mosley maintains an elegant mixture of the past and the present so that even new readers can jump on board the series with this novel if they don’t want to go all the way back. I’d advise going back and starting at the beginning because the journey is an amazing one and well worth the time investment.