Best 1990 Adventures (4)
May 3, 2020
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1990 adventure novels.
Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins crime adventure Devil in a Blue Dress.
When Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins, a black, once illiterate Texas orphan who’s educated himself, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and recently (the year is 1948) purchased his first home in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, is fired from an aircraft assembly plant for being “uppity,” he accepts a seemingly sraightforward job tracking down Daphne Monet, the missing mistress of a wealthy white politician. In the tradition of Hammett and Chandler, Easy’s search for this blonde beauty known to frequent black jazz clubs leads the unlicensed private eye into a tangle of crime and official corruption; unlike these earlier noir authors, Mosley also explores racism, social injustice, and race politics in Los Angeles. Having run afoul of DeWitt Albright, a sociopathic villain, Easy enlists the aid of Raymond “Mouse” Alexander, a charming but conscienceless killer with whom he grew up in Houston… and who is almost as liable to shoot Easy as anyone else. Plus, Easy falls for Daphne Monet, who is not what she seems.
Fun facts: There are over a dozen Easy Rawlins mysteries, set from from the 1930s to the 1960s, including: A Red Death (1991), White Butterfly (1992), and Black Betty (1994). Devil in a Blue Dress was adapted in 1995 as a pretty good movie starring Denzel Washington, Jennifer Beals, and Don Cheadle as Mouse. There have been rumors of an Easy Rawlins TV series, too, over the years; NBC, supposedly, will air one.
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.