Blonde Faith by Walter Mosley
There’s this advert on the TV — can’t remember offhand whether it’s for a cream or a razor — where this sexy lady has wiped or shaved all those annoying hairs off her legs and now wants to test the “stubble” factor. So she takes this piece of silk, hangs it over an angled limb and watches it with an enigmatic smile as it slips silently off. Her leg generates no friction to slow the casting of this May clout (as in “Ne’er cast a clout till May be out” — an English proverb that only a word geek like me still remembers).
Which is a silly way of introducing the subject of transparent writing styles. Some people have the knack of writing such simple and seductive English that, almost despite yourself, you are picked up and transported to the end of the book without having to pause for breath. It’s the sign of a true craftsman at work. Walter Mosley has this breathtaking ability. In Blonde Faith, the tenth in the Easy Rawlins series, we are back on the streets of LA in a direct sequel to Cinnamon Kiss. Easy is still in an emotional mess over the departure of Bonnie. Here, as in many other ways, Mosley takes a well-worn cliché and makes it credible. There are ten-to-the-dozen novels where a man loses the woman he loves because he won’t open his mouth and speak honestly about this feelings. Here again we have two people who were made for each other but who find themselves trapped by circumstance and waves of conflicting emotions. But the interior monologue in this case is outstanding.
The “case” comes to his door in the form of Easter Dawn, the adopted daughter of Christmas Black and a request from EttaMae to find Mouse. At first, these disparate responsibilities seem unwelcome yet, as the novel progresses, Easy begins to find emotional distance to see himself and his problems more clearly. They help him to break out of the morass of self-pity in which he had been wallowing, and to ask himself who he is and what he wants out of life. This becomes more pressing as the bad guys threaten Easy and his growing family circle more directly. This time, he doesn’t have Mouse as immediate back-up.
In fact, the interest lies in how dangerous Easy proves to be. Whereas Christmas and Mouse would charge directly into battle with guns blazing, showing no fear, Easy must rise to the challenge of vicious killers on the prowl on his own merits. Since he lacks the bravado of his two friends, he must find more subtle ways of dealing out death. In the end, he saves everyone except, perhaps, himself.
Since I find no fault with this book, I merely encourage everyone who has not already found Mosley to find him immediately (preferably at the beginning of the various series). I do not recommend anyone to start with this book. The emotional resonance will be lacking if you do not see how the characters and narrative arc have developed to reach this point. If you are already a fan, I need say no more than you will not be disappointed by the novel. Hopefully, Mosley can be persuaded to write more of them.
For reviews of other books by Walter Mosley, see:
All I Did Was Shoot My Man
The Gift of Fire/On the Head of a Pin
Known to Evil
The Long Fall
Merge and Disciple
When the Thrill Is Gone.