~~Moved from GR~~
by Walter Mosley
The LA riots have erupted, and the state of mind of Easy Rawlins, official janitor and unofficial detective, reflects the chaos around him. While saddened by the rage and violence, he understands it deeply, seeing that to even make the offenders aware of the gulf between white and black, something has to break. In the midst of his own inner turmoil, the LA police call him in to investigate a potentially racially sensitive case. Easy Rawlins has a unique perspective and voice. He is easy to like and sympathize with, and if the mystery isn't exactly brilliant, the story's theme and message are vital and heartrending.
Like all the stories in the series, its message decrying racism is not exactly subtle. The inequalities and prejudice Rawlins receives are shocking and horrifying, especially since this was less than fifty years ago. Anyone who even thinks to complain that African-Americans have chips on their shoulders or whatever should be forced to read a book from this series along with Beloved by Toni Morrison.
I read this during a bout into noir literature, and I'm left wondering what is wrong with LA (apart from the obvious, of course.) I mean, Chandler's Philip Marlowe, Connelly's Harry Bosch, and Mosley's Easy Rawlins all set up shop there, and all give unique perspectives on the city--a PI in the 30's, a police officer in the 90's, and an unofficial African-American PI in the 60's--and in all of them, the police are incredibly corrupt, the city is an immoral sinkhole, and racism is so ubiquitous that it erupts into violence. Mosley's story is important in this set since he is the only writer in this set--in fact, the only noir writer I know of--who describes the racial tensions from the African-American point of view.
Overall, a story very much worth reading; not for the mystery, but for Rawlin's heartwarming interactions with his family and to grasp a very personal perspective of the '65 riots of LA.