Tom Sinclair
July 09, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Little Scarlet

Current Status
In Season
Walter Mosley

We gave it an A

The eighth novel about African-American sleuth Easy Rawlins is being touted as Mosley’s best book yet, and it may well be. Set in the immediate aftermath of the 1965 Watts riots, it finds L.A. police enlisting a now middle-aged Rawlins to track down the possibly white murderer of a black woman without setting off more civic unrest. There’s a feverish intensity to this one that doesn’t let up, with racial and sexual conundrums piling up like so much tinder on the protagonist’s overheated emotions. Mosley juggles the disparate elements of his tale masterfully, avoiding the convoluted plotting that has occasionally made some of his other work a tough slog. This time, he comes up with a winner. Hey, who says Bill Clinton (who once called Mosley his favorite thriller writer) doesn’t have keen literary instincts?

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