Summary and book reviews of Little Scarlet by Walter Mosley

Little Scarlet

An Easy Rawlins Mystery

By Walter Mosley

Little Scarlet
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  • Hardcover: Jul 2004,
    320 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2005,
    352 pages.

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Book Summary

Easy Rawlins returns to solve a mystery set amid the flames of the hottest summer L.A. has ever seen.

Just after devastating riots tear through Los Angeles in 1965 - when anger is high and fear still smolders everywhere - the police turn up at Easy Rawlins's doorstep. He expects the worst, as usual. But they've come to ask for his help.

A man was wrenched from his car by a mob at the riots' peak and escaped into a nearby apartment building. Soon afterward, a redheaded woman known as Little Scarlet was found dead in that building - and the fleeing man is the obvious suspect. But the man has vanished.

The police fear that their presence in certain neighborhoods could spark a new inferno, so they ask Easy Rawlins to see what he can discover. The vanished man is the key, but he is only the beginning. Easy enlists the help of his longtime friend Mouse to break through the shroud. And what Easy finds is a killer whose rage, like that which burned in the city for weeks, is intrinsically woven around deep-set passions -- feelings echoed within Easy himself.

Chapter 1

THE MORNING AIR still smelled of smoke. Wood ash mainly but there was also the acrid stench of burnt plastic and paint. And even though I knew it couldn’t be true, I thought I caught a whiff of putrid flesh from under the rubble across the street. The hardware store and Bernard’s Stationery Store were both completely gutted. The Gonzalez Market had been looted but only a part of its roof had been scorched. The corner building, however, Lucky Dime Liquors, had been burned to the ground. Manny Massman was down in the rubble with his two sons, kicking the metal fixtures. At one point the middle-aged store owner lowered his head and cried. His sons put their hands on his shoulders.

I understood how he felt. He had everything in that liquor store. His whole life. And now, after a five-day eruption of rage that had been simmering for centuries, he was penniless and destitute.

In his mind he hadn’t done a thing wrong to anyone down in Watts. He had never ...

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Reviews

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This is Mosley's eighth book in the Easy Rawlins series, and the setting is Los Angeles during the Watts riots of 1965. Mosley combines a highly involving mystery with a no holds barred commentary about race relations in the white- run America of the 1960s - a period of time that is still so recent that I'm not sure it could even be classified it as 'historical fiction'. This is a very powerful read and believed by many critics to be Mosley's strongest in the series.  

Media Reviews
Janet Maslin - The New York Times

Little Scarlet — most of the Easy Rawlins books, like Devil in a Blue Dress, have colors in their titles — does a thoughtful, effective job of making that sense of racial outrage pivotal to its murder plot. As he did most recently in the non-Rawlins novel The Man in My Basement, Mr. Mosley is able to show how extreme racial polarities can lead to situations that are in no way black and white.

Tatiana Siegel - USA Today

Little Scarlet works so well because it operates on two distinct levels as a compelling cat-and-mouse game and as a dead-eyed examination of the injustices inherent in racism. Little Scarlet enjoys the bonus of taking place against a lush and frightening historical backdrop of urban America teetering on the precipice of change.

Michael Rogers - Library Journal

Mosley's hot streak continues with Little Scarlet, the best Easy novel in years. Highly recommended.

Library Journal - Michael Rogers

Mosley's hot streak continues with Little Scarlet, the best Easy novel in years. Highly recommended.

Publishers Weekly

Fierce, provocative, expertly entertaining, this is genre writing at its finest.

Kirkus Reviews

As usual, Easy isn't much of a detective - his inquiries lead to a chain of suspicious characters who finger one another - but he could hardly be improved as a philosopher and aphorist.

Booklist - Bill Ott

Starred Review. Mosley remains a master at showing his readers slices of history from the inside, from a perspective that is all those things history usually isn't intimate, individual, and passionate.

Reader Reviews
Gino

Getting To Know Easy Rawlin
To really get to know the characters in the Easy Rawling series of Walter Mosley books, you must read first Six Easy Pieces, then Gone fishing. I feel I know the characters personally and can't wait to read another and another. I never get tried of ...   Read More

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