Monday, January 13, 2014

Little Green

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Little Green (Doubleday, 2013).

It's not technically true that I had missed Easy Rawlins, because I had never really embraced the Los Angeles-based detective. I have read a few of Walter Mosley's novels that star the character, but never fell for them the way that I did some of the other writers in Mosley's school. I did myself a disservice; struggling through those last four or five turgid Lew Archer books on the strength of the earlier ones was a waste of time. I'd have done better to read more from a writer whose work was improving with each new book, instead of the other way around.

Like the police and various parties in Los Angeles in 1967, I had read, incorrectly, that Easy Rawlins was dead. Mosley ended the detective's previous adventure, published in 2007, with the character, despondent, plunging to his death in a car. Little Green, published in the spring of last year, is set two months later, during which time Easy has been slowly recuperating from a coma. His best friend, the violent and always-present Mouse, comes to him with a problem. An old family friend, eighteen year-old Evander - known as Little Green - has vanished. Entranced by the hippie scene on the Strip, he's met some free spirits and taken some bad acid and got into serious trouble.

When I last read a Rawlins story, the time was the late 1950s. This book is set in the aftermath of the Watts riots and the release of Surrealistic Pillow. There are flowers and acid and free love, and strange voodoo and crooked cops. It's a brilliant evocation of the time and place. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and think that I shall go read some passages again with Forever Changes playing on the hi-fi as I do, and then go back to pick up some of the many novels that I had, wrongly, skipped. Highly recommended.

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