Walter Mosley, . . Little, Brown, $24.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-316-59238-3
Abandoning the voice of his premier creation, Easy Rawlins, Mosley mines a new shaft of 1950s Los Angeles with a hero who combines the principles of Easy with the deadliness of Ray "Mouse" Alexander. The result is a violent, heroic and classic piece of noir fiction. Narrator Paris Minton is an appealing figure—an easygoing black man for whom the written word is salvation and whose nameless used bookstore in Watts is paradise. Then the beautiful Elana Love enters his store and brings with her more trouble than Paris has ever seen—enough trouble that Paris knows his only hope is his friend Fearless Jones. A former soldier, Jones is a riveting new creation. He's a man of both principle and action with an innate sense of justice—and as his name makes clear, he's afraid of nothing. The novel rips along with a hunt for the girl and a race among competing factions to find a missing bond that's the key to a fortune. For the black characters it's a desperate struggle to stay alive in a white world where the deck is stacked. One sly reference tells the reader we're still in the same world and time inhabited by Easy Rawlins, and that Fearless and Mouse are equally "bad." But Fearless is also a knight-errant and hopefully destined for further adventures as fine as this one.
Reviewed on: 05/28/2001