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Paperback Black Betty : An Easy Rawlins Novel Book

ISBN: 0743451783

ISBN13: 9780743451789

Black Betty : An Easy Rawlins Novel

(Book #4 in the Easy Rawlins Series)

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

1961: For most black Americans, these were times of hope. For former P.I. Easy Rawlins, Los Angeles's mean streets were never meaner...or more deadly. Ordinarily, Easy would have thrown the two bills in the sleazy shamus' face -- the white man who wanted him to find the notorious Black Betty, an ebony siren whose talent for all things rich and male took her from Houston's Fifth Ward to Beverly Hills. There was too much Easy wasn't being told, but...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A Book Drenched In History

Walter Mosley doesn't just write mysteries. He creates a historical landscape peopled with vibrant and authentic characters who like most of us are flawed and lacking in some way. "Black Betty" is Mosley at his best. The mystery is enthralling and many layered, the atmosphere electric, and the villains exquisitely evil.The time is 1961 the era of Martin Luther King, John Kennedy, and the beginning of The Civil rights movement. Easy Rawlings is raising two adopted children on his own, and his secret real-estate empire is sinking. He has no idea how to solve his financial problems until a sleazy private eye Saul Lynx approaches him with a job. Lynx offers Easy $200 to track down a former acquaintance of his, Elizabeth Eady, aka Black Betty. Betty a beautiful and sensual woman has vanished from her wealthy employer's home in Beverly Hills. Easy's search for Betty will uncover a trail of chaos and murder. To make matters worse, Easy's psychopathic best friend Mouse is also out of prison determined to find and execute the man who betrayed him. However, this book is much more than a murder mystery; it is a journey into the heart of racial bigotry and the paradox that is the human race. The language is vibrant and moving:On the bus there were mainly old people and young mothers and teenagers coming in late to school. Most of them were black people. Dark-skinned with generous features. Women with eyes so deep that most men can never know them. Women like Betty who'd lost too much to be silly or kind. And there were the children, like Spider and Terry T once were, with futures so bleak it could make you cry just to hear them laugh. Because behind the music of their laughing you knew there was the rattle of chains. Chains we wore for no crime; chains we wore for so long that they melded with our bones. We all carry them but nobody can see it-not even most of us. All the way home I thought about freedom coming for us at last. But what about all those centuries in chains? Where do they go when you get free?This is not merely a fast paced and gripping mystery but a powerful story of one of the saddest aspects of American life. Mosley does not preach nor condemn, he merely presents us with a historically accurate account of an era in which this mystery story unfolds. I highly recommend this story.

The finest of the Easy Rawlins stories?

I don't generally like crime fiction. There's a sentence to alienate most of the people reading this review! However for some writers - the great ones - the genre they write in is irrelevent. It cannot be denied that Mosley is a great writer, who has shown equal facility in tough but politically and socially literate crime writing and also in witty and wise post-modern science-fiction. Black Betty is a fine demonstration of his craft. His particular skill is in weaving the world into his tales. The mystery is well-constructed and satisfyingly tangled, featuring multiple murders, corruption and racial and class divisions. However the central plot is framed both by the atmosphere of early 1960s America with the rise of the civil rights movement confronting old prejudices, and by the dense web of family and social life within the families of ordinary, mainly (but not entirely) black, working class Americans. In theory Easy Rawlins' role in the investigations in which he is involved is limited to where white men fear to tread - the black community. However the networks of corruption and deceit he uncovers inevitably take him outside this world, in this case into the bizarre and emtionally-stunted world of white land-owners and their complicated relationships with their black and latino servants, as well as a corrupt and racist police force and legal system. Easy is also personally involved - Elizabeth Eady AKA Black Betty - the woman whose disappearance he is hired to investigate was a teenage crush of his, a woman who inspires obsession in many, which turns out to be her tragedy. At the same time, Easy has to contend with several other difficulties: the release of his psychotic - but often useful - friend, Mouse, from prison, bristling with anger and the need to revenge himself on the man who sent him down; the ongoing silence of his eldest adopted child Jesus, who has chosen not to speak as a result of the trauma and abuse from which Easy rescued him; the suspicious collapse of the real estate businesses in which he has invested his occasional earnings; and various other ongoing personal and social difficulties. Easy Rawlins has a well described and believable, if unconventional, family and a life beyond the crimes he is occasionally employed to solve. He is a fascinating character who has grown with successive novels; full of desire and anger but compassionate, wise and often painfully self-aware.I would rate Black Betty as the best of the Easy Rawlins tales. What is particularly great about it is Easy's story of personal survival and compromise in an unfair world where a black man cannot sit back and enjoy what he has without someone trying to destroy it. Easy does get to the bottom of things, but it is at immense cost to all those involved including himself, and in the case of Mouse - well, as those who know the character will be aware that there is very little in the world that will stop him doing what he has set his mind on. This is ultimately

A Multi-layered Mystery

After reading (or rereading) many of the classic detective novels in the past few months, I have come to two conclusions. First, I read way too many detective novels. Secondly (and more importantly), in all truly great hardboiled detective stories, the actual mystery is secondary. Granted, a labyrinth plot that keeps one guessing is always a plus. But all the true greats of crime fiction (Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James Ellroy et al.) have realized early one what has taken me some time to understand: It is not the plot, it is the world the story occurs in that is important. The finest mystery plot in the world means nothing if the reader does not believe the world presented actually exists, at least on the page.I state this merely as a preamble to my main topic, the novel BLACK BETTY, by Walter Mosley. It is a good mystery. It has intrigue, deception, betrayal, racism, and murder. It is complex enough to demand a second visit. But, more important than the plot, Mosley has created the world of 1950's Los Angeles in such vivid and believable detail that you'd read the novel even if it were a mere travelogue.BLACK BETTY marks the fourth appearance of Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins, an unwilling investigator who is more concerned with providing his children with a good home than he is with solving a case. It is to this end that he accepts an offer of two hundred dollars to track down Elizabeth Eady, a sultress from his past who has gone missing. As Easy once again delves into the lives of others, he visits worlds he wishes to escape from, and worlds he wishes to join. He also realizes that there is no real difference between them.Easy ranks up with Phillip Marlowe and Sam Spade as one of the finest literary detectives. He is tough, resourceful, intelligent, and oddly eloquent. It's also good to see the return of Mouse, Easy's childhood friend/nightmare. Mouse is a killer, and is all the more terrifying for his believability. Like all of Mosley's characters, you get the impression that they have lives beyond the page, that they do not exist merely as foils for Easy.But that is true of Easy's entire world. In a few simple, elegent sentences, Mosley can describe a character more vividly than most authors can do with pages of exposition. Their manners of speech, their beliefs, their dreams. Mosley can size up an individual like almost no one else can. Even minor characters, such as Ortiz and Jackson Blue, linger in the memory far longer than many lead characters of other novels.Mosley's Easy stories, despite their being lumped into the sometimes simpleminded detective genre, are always more than they appear. Mosley embues his writings with a palpable sense of rage. The common, almost routine racism that Easy encounters every day gives the stories a compelling weight that his literary predecessor's sometimes lacked. It is a viewpoint that could overwhelm the story, but Mosley is far too skilled to let it happen. Even as Easy mus

Easy Rawlins Is An Easy Read

Easy Rawlins is a complex character. I enjoy getting to know him better in each of Mosley's books. But because Walter Mosley has such a wonderful talent for character development, I probably will never have Easy figured out completely. What amazes me about these books is that they read like a serial but any one of them can stand on it's own without any long, detailed introductions or explanations. Black Betty does not disappoint. Easy juggles several situations at once and manages to bring order and justice to his world by the end of the book. I think the most endearing quality of Easy's is the love and care he gives to his kids, Jesus and Feather. The time spent with his family gives a good balance to the darker side of his life on the streets. There are some big surprises in this story...some good and some sad and good at the same time. I bought this book a long time ago and saved it until the next Easy Rawlings book came out so I could read them both at the same time because when I finish a Walter Mosley book I always want more. I wish he could write `em as fast as I can read `em.

Black Betty Was Great

I enjoyed Black Betty as I do all of Walter Mosley's books. He has had me hooked for 6 years now. I first found him and read all that was avaliable, white Butterfly, Devil in a Blue Dress and Red Death. Then I had to stop because there weren't any more of his mysteries to read! I am so glad I have found him again. He helps me enjoy reading.
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