Book Review: Rose Gold by Walter Mosley

Rose GoldRose Gold
An Easy Rawlins Mystery #13
Walter Mosley
Doubleday, September 2014
ISBN: 978-0-385-53597-7
Hardcover

This newest novel from the prolific Walter Mosley (whose next novel, in the Leonid McGill series, And Sometimes I Wonder About You, is due out in May) brings the return of private detective Ezekiel Porterhouse (“Easy”) Rawlins.  The last novel in the series was nearly two years ago, the highly acclaimed Little Green, which in turn was preceded six years prior to that by Blonde Faith, which seemingly ended with Easy’s demise in a car accident when he’d lost control of a car he was driving on the Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu.  This book takes place five months later.

The novel is set in post-war Los Angeles, an era of radical black nationalism, where “innocence was rarely a key factor for justice,” eerily also reflecting today’s recurring headlines of black men generally guilty of nothing more than walking/driving/whatever while black, shot by white police officers.  And I can’t think of another author today who can capture this quite like Mr. Mosley.

Now nearing 50, Easy, a black man with a sixth grade education, had moved from New Orleans to LA in the late forties, and in the opening pages is moving into a new home with his 12-year-old adopted daughter, Feather, and his adopted son, Jesus.  Among the usual cast of characters present is Easy’s “oldest and deadliest friend,” Raymond “Mouse” Alexander, computer expert Jackson Blue and his wife, Jewelle, and Melvin Suggs (a white man and the only LA cop Easy trusts, describing the LAPD as “morally bankrupt”).

Easy is approached by the special assistant to the Chief of Police who offers to pay handsomely if Easy will take on a missing person’s case, leaving Easy briefly speechless:  “No policeman had ever offered me money – – and I had been stopped, rousted, beaten, and caged by a thousand cops in my years on and near the street.”  A kidnapping is suspected, since the missing young woman, Rosemary Goldsmith (who Easy comes to think of as the titular Rose Gold), missing from her dorm at UC Santa Barbara for two weeks, is the daughter of a very wealthy weapons manufacturer and philanthropist.  But nothing in a Walter Mosley novel is as simple as it seems, and never more so than here.  The book combines Easy’s philosophizing with a quiet humor, has an intricate and somewhat convoluted plot, and houses a large (at times unwieldy) cast of characters.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, April 2015.

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