The Easy Rawlins Books:
Devil in a Blue Dress
A Red Death
A Little Yellow Dog
Bad Boy Bobby Brown
Walter Mosley's other books
Devil in a Blue Dress (1990)
Set in 1948, the novel introduces Ezekiel "Easy" Porterhouse Rawlins as an unwilling amateur detective from the Watts section of Los Angeles. It presents period issues of race relations and mores as the unemployed Rawlins is hired to find a white woman who frequents jazz clubs in black districts. The novel was the first of two Mosley books to be made into a film.
Easy makes a memorable debut in this tale of a missing, mysterious beauty and the powerful politicians who hire him to find her. Set in 1948, the novel opens as Easy loses his steady job. When a sleazy fixer named DeWitt Albright offers him a lot of money to search for a gorgeous blonde who likes to hang around in black nightclubs, Easy's instincts tell him to stay out of it, but his mortgage payment pushes him in. "Devil" also introduces not only Mosley's richly textured version of black Los Angeles but his second-most-compelling continuing character, Easy's cheerfully psychopathic best friend Mouse. And Easy acquires the first of his adopted children, Jesus, by a highly irregular route.
A Red Death (1991)
By 1953, Easy is, by virtue of his solution in "Blue Dress," a small-scale real estate mogul. He owns several properties in Watts, but no one knows about them except his wily manager, Mofass. Or so Easy believes until he gets a letter from the IRS, informing him he's being investigated for tax evasion. Then his old love Etta Mae shows up on his doorstep, which would be good news if she weren't married to Easy's fatally jealous friend Mouse. An FBI man offers Easy a way out of his tax troubles -- infiltrate the First African Baptist Church and spy on alleged communist Chaim Wexler. But as soon as Easy finds himself admiring Wexler, bodies begin to pile up. The paranoia of the Red-baiting, unrepentantly racist Fifties permeates this tough tale.
White Butterfly (1992)
In 1956 in Los Angeles, the gruesome murders of three black "party girls" are not a police priority. The lone black detective assigned to the case asks for Easy's help, but Rawlins is reluctant. He has a wife and baby daughter he's crazy in love with, he's making plenty of money working real estate deals with his old friend Mofass, and prowling the mean streets looking for a kinky serial killer does not appeal. Then a white UCLA coed is found murdered in the same fashion, a girl from an upper-crust family who's been leading a double life as a stripper, the White Butterfly of the title. The police make it clear Easy doesn't have a choice about getting involved, and soon he's "thinking about how my life had gone out of control." The moving story explores on many levels how families, with the best of intentions, can destroy one another.
Black Betty (1994)
This best-seller has a plot reminiscent of Ross MacDonald's novels, turning on how unpredictably the past can ricochet into the present. Easy's own past is part of this case -- he's hired to find Elizabeth Eady, a woman he remembers from his boyhood in Houston as the seductive Black Betty, "a great shark of a woman. Men died in her wake." Now nearly fifty, Betty is still trouble. The wealthy white family for whom she worked as a maid is suspiciously eager to locate her. The setup stinks, but Easy's real estate empire has crashed, he's strapped for cash -- and his own memories of Black Betty propel him into the search. Meanwhile, Mouse is just out of prison after doing a nickel for murder, and he's hunting the man who turned him in -- a hunt bound to have a deadly conclusion.
If you already like Walter Mosley, then you'll probably like Black Betty, but if you're just starting out I suggest that you start with Devil in a Blue Dress.
A Little Yellow Dog (1996)
JFK is president and Easy Rawlins has a job with the Los Angeles Board of Education. He is off the street, off the whisky, into a respectable job supervising the custodial staff at Sojourner Truth Junior High in Watts. Then Mrs. Idabell Turner, a pretty young teacher shows up very early for work one morning -- and before he knows what's happening, Easy is making love to her on her desk, then agreeing to take care of her nasty little dog Pharaoh, which Idabell claims her husband wants to kill. Before the day is over Idabell is gone, leaving Easy with her dog, and the handsomest corpse Easy has ever seen is found in the school garden. That night the corpse's twin brother turns up dead as well The police believe that Easy is involved with the murders. The head of the school wants to fire him The twisty plot revolves around the burgeoning drug trade of the early Sixties.
Gone Fishin' (1997)
(the publisher is the small Black Classic Press instead of his usual W.W.Norton)
This is a prequel to the Easy Rawlins series and this is actually the first book Mosley wrote. We are in pre-World War II 1939 Houston Texas. A 19-year-old Easy Rawlins and his friend, the dangerous Mouse Alexander, are about to take the ride of a lifetime -- into a world of voodoo, sex, revenge, and death that will both change and link their destinies forever... It is set before Easy moves to LA and explains the detail Mouse murding his father, and Easy's relationship with Etta Mae, Mouse's wife.
Bad Boy Bobby Brown (1998-99)?
We have known the existence of this book for some time, but no information is out at present.
Walter Mosley's other books