Devil in a Blue Dress

Walter Mosley         Pages: 223            Published: 1990

The book: The story begins in Los Angeles in 1948. Easy Rawlins, a black war veteran, has been laid off from his job due to a disagreement with his boss. He’s having a drink in a bar when he’s introduced by the bar owner to a large white man, dressed in a white linen suit, DeWitt Albright. He offers to pay Rawlins to find a blonde woman who likes to hang out in black jazz clubs. Rawlins feels something’s not quite right and does not trust Albright, but he has a mortgage to pay and no paycheck. Will he take the job? Is Albright to be trusted?

You might like it because: It’s an excellent detective story with lots of red herrings, twists and turns, and dead ends. Mosley’s writing is wonderful and brings 1940s Los Angeles to life vividly.

What did other people say?
“Richly atmospheric…honors the hard-boiled tradition of Hamnett/Chandler/Cain…but Mosley takes us down some mean streets that his spiritual predecessors never could have…A fast-moving, entertaining story written with impressive style.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review

“More than simply a detective novel… [Mosley is] a talented author with something vital to say about the distance between the black and white worlds, and with a dramatic way to say it.”                     – The New York Times

Awards & Recognition:
One of the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century – The Independent Mystery Booksellers Association.

How quickly will you get into the book? Mosley writes a great detective story and piqued my attention from the beginning. I was hard pushed to put the book down and read it within two days.

You might not like it because: As mentioned in the LA Times review, this is a story told in the classic hard-boiled tradition of Hamnett and Chandler. Some readers may prefer their detective stories less hard-boiled, in a more modern, or less edgy, style.

What might you read next?
In an interview in the Paris Review, Mosley mentioned Hamnett, Chandler, and Ross MacDonald as writers he  “read a lot of.” But he said he felt MacDonald is “the best wordsmith.” Read his book, The Way Some People Die.

Try another hard-boiled detective story set in LA. Read The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler.

Or read about a female private eye instead. Pick up Indemnity Only by Sara Peretsky.

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