four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
25-Nov-Dec-2006
user_rating: 
0

A-Fear of the DarkThe third installment of Walter Mosley’s Fearless Jones series (after Fearless Jones and Fear Itself) takes place in 1956 South Los Angeles, where trouble once again finds bookseller Paris Minton and his black sidekick and hero Fearless Jones. This time, Paris’s criminally minded cousin, Ulysses "Useless" S. Grant IV, has turned to him in dire need of help. Then he disappears. Despite intentions otherwise—and because he can’t say no to Aunt Three Hearts—Paris decides to track down his cousin and uncover his blackmailing scheme. Of course, especially when secrets, desperate women, and dead bodies stand in the way, Paris’s search is not as easy as it looks.
Little, Brown. 320 pages. $25.99. ISBN: 0316734586

Ft. Worth Star-Telegram 4 of 5 Stars
"You’re expecting a noir thriller when you open the latest Walter Mosley novel, but a comic history lesson comes knocking. … Mosley invests Paris, his unwilling detective, with qualities—cowardice, intelligence and a self-mocking humor—that makes this tale a pleasure to read." Cathy Frisinger

South FL Sun-Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"As usual, Mosley is in his element when examining black culture and racism, in this series set in the 1950s. But this time Mosley also delivers a strong, focused plot and fully developed characters, both of which have been missing in the other two Fearless novels." Oline H. Cogdill

St. Petersburg Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Much as he focuses on his male characters and their struggles with what it means to be a black man in America, Mosley writes fascinating women." Colette Bancroft

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"For much of the novel, Mosley is a black novelist poking affectionate fun at black characters—and black stereotypes—even as he reminds us of the decidedly unfunny realities of their lives in a segregated America. … The novel’s complicated plot is not terribly important." Patrick Anderson

Los Angeles Times 2.5 of 5 Stars
"The mechanics of chase and investigation clearly interest Mosley less than character, atmosphere and locale, or the bringing to life of various shady or honorable figures, the entrepreneurs and con men, the pool rooms, the restaurants, the winos and waitresses that Paris encounters in his trawls through Eisenhower-era Watts." Richard Rayner

Critical Summary

Although Walter Mosley is best known for his popular Easy Rawlins series, critics agree that the newer Fearless Jones books come in a close second. After all, they’re close cousins, both set in Los Angeles in the 1950s and dealing with themes of racism, black culture, and social injustice. The newer series, however, written in similarly cool, witty prose, is lighter in tone. Reviewers praised Mosley’s vivid, convincing characters—Fearless, of course, but also the women, including the intrepid Three Hearts. They disagreed, however, about the novel’s plot. Some critics thought it fast-paced and complex, while others cited it as ancillary to the character development and larger history lesson. In the end, Fear of the Dark is, like Mosley’s other novels, "troubling, too—that’s clearly what he intends, and he does his work well" (Washington Post).