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Walter Mosley
Little Green
Doubleday / Random House
US Hardcover First Edition
ISBN 978-0-385-53598-4
Publication Date: 05-14-2013
294 Pages; $25.95
Date Reviewed: 08-25-2013

Reviewed by: Rick Kleffel © 2013

Index:  Mystery  General Fiction

I never knew Easy Rawlins before he died. I only met the man post-mortem. Of course, I knew about Walter Mosley's acclaimed series of novels. I've enjoyed his science fiction immensely, but had not yet found the time to ratchet back and start his most famous detective series. It's a daunting prospect to either go back to square one or jump into the middle of a series.

When Mosley resurrected Easy for his newest book 'Little Green,' it seemed like my best chance to get to know the character anew, as he was brought back from the Malibu version of the Reichenbach Falls and dropped into the flower-power revolution, already in progress in Los Angeles.

'Little Green' starts with passages that read more like Mosley's science fiction than any mystery, other than this one; Easy's journey back to the world of the living does not live up to his name. But Mouse is there to help, along with Mama Jo. It's not too long before Easy's back in the business of private detection, this time looking for a missing boy in the wilds of the Sunset Strip of 1967. These streets are truly a jungle, and Easy's not at the top of his game.

Mosley's a brilliant writer, who effortlessly crafts an atmospheric thriller that by virtue of character, prose and setting manages to make some trenchant observations of things as they were, which for readers in the 21st century, will jangle about with respect to things as they are. Mosley's historical observations and details are finely tuned to echo what's changed and what has not.

Mosley brings all this to life in prose that's smart, funny and particularly sharp. The dialogue is crisp and at it's best when Easy is trading barbs with Mouse, a very bad man who happens to be Easy's best friend. But Mosley is not averse to using his science fiction skill-set, in this case, world-building, to create LA in 1967 with all the verve and excitement the time and place command. Mosley brings this world and his characters to his readers with the power of memory. 'Little Green' plays the old joke about not having lived in the sixties if you can remember them in reverse.

All of this happens in the course of a pretty tense story, as murders in the world of free love seem to line the way to drug communes and corporate espionage. Mosley does a superb job of re-creating Rawlins' world for the reader, and finds the perfect path from the nice kid to the bad parts of town. Of course, there's more to the problem than a missing boy, and Mosley knows how to keep readers hooked beyond the bottom of the barrel.
'Little Green' is also a great way to get to know Mosley's Easy Rawlins cast; Mouse, Mama Jo and Easy's family. One of the great aspects of the character at this point in his career is that he's more than a bit weary. He cares about his family and his friends as family. He's anything but the hard-drinking archetype, and much the better for it. Easy Rawlins is a character who most readers will think of as someone they'd actually be able to talk to.

'Little Green' is every bit as much fun to read as you might hope it would be. Mosley's smart observations about race, income, and life-as-it-was ring true and clear. And even if not you've not read any of the books that came before, this one has enough backdrop in it to catch you up, but told in a manner so as not to slow down the story. Indeed, it's integral to the story. Easy Rawlins has been brought back to life — both his and ours. It doesn't seem one bit strange to meet Rawlins after his death and in the middle of his life. Resurrection is the perfect makeover.

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