BOOK REVIEW: Charcoal Joe

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Charcoal Joe

Set in 1968, MWA Grand Master Mosley’s excellent 14th Easy Rawlins mystery

(after 2014’s Rose Gold) finds the favor-dealing L.A. PI working as a partner in

the WRENS-L Detective Agency, which combines his initials with those of his

two partners. A dangerous friend of Easy’s, Raymond “Mouse” Alexander,

introduces him to Rufus “Charcoal Joe” Tyler, who wants Easy to clear Seymour

Brathwaite, a 22-year-old doctor of physics doing postgraduate work at UCLA.

Seymour was arrested on suspicion of fatally shooting a couple of crooks at a

beach house in Malibu. Easy can’t get the whole truth from Charcoal Joe or

Seymour, and he soon finds himself embroiled with deadly foes in a quest for

missing money and jewels. Easy gets help from such series regulars as police

captain Melvin Suggs and Fearless Jones, but Easy does his own heavy lifting

in dramatic fashion. As always in this series, racism in all its insidious forms is

central. As Easy observes, “Life was like a bruise for us [black men] back then,

and today too.” This is a must for Easy Rawlins fans and anyone who

appreciates fresh, powerful prose. Author tour. Agent: Gloria Loomis, Watkins

Loomis Agency. (June)

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Book review is the property of and completed by Publishers Weekly

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