The thrill of the chase

In Walter Mosley's 'Blonde Faith,' detective 'Easy' Rawlins investigates a disappearance in post-Watts riots Los Angeles.

Two years after the Watts riots in Los Angeles, detective Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins comes home to an unexpected delivery: the adopted daughter of one of his two most dangerous friends. And if Christmas Black left his daughter's side, it's because he's already dead, or expects to be so soon. Then Easy gets a call that his buddy Raymond "Mouse" Alexander is wanted for murder. This isn't all that unusual, but the twist is that Mouse has disappeared right along with his alleged victim. Easy's mentor used to call him "the unwilling detective" –"You're out there to help people because you hate what's happened. But really you'd rather be reading a book." Easy doesn't get much chance to exercise his inner bookworm in "Blonde Faith" – chasing somebody scary enough to get both Christmas and Mouse to run would be enough to crack even Philip Marlowe's laconic facade – and Easy has a family to protect. If that weren't enough to keep a middle-aged guy up nights, Easy is still bitterly regretting having kicked out his lover, Bonnie Shay. Yes, she cheated on him, but he can't help feeling that he abandoned the love of his life.

"Blonde Faith" is Mosley's 10th noir starring Rawlins, and he's an expert both on mid-20th-century race relations in L.A. and the weariness of a man determined to keep going even though he's not sure why. "Life wasn't good," he writes, "but at least it kept moving forward." Grade: B+ – Yvonne Zipp

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