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Little Scarlet
by Walter Mosley
Book Review by Amy Coffin
Los Angeles, 1965: ruins from the riots are still smoldering and racial tension is thick. Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins just wants to protect his family and participate in rebuilding his black neighborhood. When the police knock on Easy’s door, he’s surprised to find that they are requesting his help.

A young black woman named Nola Payne was brutally murdered during the riots. Witnesses saw her with a white man just before her death. The entire city is on alert and the authorities want a quick, quiet investigation. They want Easy to knock on doors and ask questions in places the police aren’t welcomed.

Easy is torn. He blames the police for most of the riot tension, yet he wants Nola’s killer to be caught. He joins law enforcement’s effort, enduring prejudice and blatant racism to solve the murder of Little Scarlet.

Walter Mosley uses this Easy Rawlins installment to illustrate the raw emotion of 1960’s post-riot Los Angeles. He captures the sights, sounds and feelings of a city torn apart by racial boiling points.

Mosley’s writing talents are extensively exhibited throughout Little Scarlet. The characters’ complex relationships, clearly illustrated by the author, provide the foundation for the novel. The suspense is well timed. Mosley transports readers to a heated time and place thirty years ago. Little Scarlet is a gripping tale on several levels and an exceptional addition to the Easy Rawlins series.


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