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Bookmarks Issue: 
12-Sept-Oct-2004
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An Easy Rawlins Mystery

A-LittleScarletUnfolding against the 1965 L.A. Watts Riots, this eighth installment of the Easy Rawlins series personalizes race relations during one of the city’s stormiest eras. "There was no real winner," Easy says. "Fear on one side, defeat on the other." When a black woman nicknamed Little Scarlet is found strangled in her apartment, the L.A.P.D. asks Easy to find the killer, allegedly a white man escaping a rioting mob. But, as Easy thinks, could the murderer possibly be a black man? As he investigates Little Scarlet’s death, Easy stumbles across the death trail of more black women—and must address his own anger, discrimination, and psychological effects of racism.
Little, Brown. 306 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0316073032

Los Angeles Times 4.5 of 5 Stars
"As Flaubert tapped into the chaotic energies of 1848 Paris to write his masterpiece Sentimental Education, Mosley has found his own narrative charge in the streets of South-Central. As James Ellroy defined the landscape of 1950s Los Angeles in L.A. Confidential, Mosley has created an indispensable picture of the city in the ‘60s." Thomas Curwen

San Jose Mercury News 4.5 of 5 Stars
"… Mosley’s writing is so beautiful, so powerful, that I let the anger boil off the pages to the side of me while I stayed in it and finished what is a great novel, a significant addition to the story of America. … Everything works to elucidate and edify." John Orr

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"What makes it more than a genre piece is Easy’s insight into how the world is changing around him." Janet Maslin

Newsday 4 of 5 Stars
"… Little Scarlet is tightly woven, as propulsive as a bullet, a book that’s almost literally impossible to put down. What’s most remarkable, though, is Mosley’s vision of the riots as a watershed event in Easy’s thinking, one that changes everything." David L. Ulin

South Florida Sun-Sentinel 4 of 5 Stars
"Set during the aftermath of the Watts riots of 1965, Little Scarlet quickly evolves into one of the strongest entries in Mosley’s already formidable series. … [It] combines Mosley’s trademark of vivid characters with a forceful look at race relations and the Watts riots in the context of history." Oline H. Cogdill

Critical Summary

Mosely introduced Easy Rawlins in 1990’s Devil in a Blue Dress, and the unofficial PI has only become angrier, more intense, and definitely more complex since then. Here, he’s embroiled in L.A.’s racial politics, investigating a murder while asking himself some tough questions. Critics agree that Little Scarlet is the best in the series. Mosely not only offers a dense portrait of bloody black-white relations, but also raises important questions about the "gray" areas that Easy must face. Characters—some new, some old—are introspective and richly drawn. Overall, Little Scarlet is a masterpiece portrait of South Central L.A., "his most searing and unforgettable account of America to date" (Los Angeles Times).