Friday, November 20, 2009

Little Scarlet by Walter Mosley

I read Little Scarlet after reading This Year You Write Your Novel. Thought it might give the book some context to see what sort of fiction Mosley turns out. After finishing Little Scarlett, I think he produces work I'd probably enjoy. On the other hand, I had some issues with this book, although they're mostly my fault.

I didn't realize when I bought Little Scarlet that it was book 6 in the Easy Rawlins series, for one thing. With a lot of mystery or crime novels, chronology isn't particularly important, but Little Scarlet picks up immediately following a huge race riot and told me virtually nothing about Rawlins himself. It wasn't until I was nearly 1/3rd of the way through that I realized it was set in the 60's, which made Rawlin's extreme racial sensitivity and (well-rendered) impotent rage more understandable, as well as explaining why most of the white characters in the book exhibit behavior that would be considered inappropriate publicly now, but which, in the 60's, was hardly uncommon.

The story itself is a pretty hard-boiled detective story, as Rawlins investigates the mysterious circumstances surrounding the murder of Little Scarlet, a young girl murdered during the riot. The twists are there, and the character of Rawlins seems like an interesting one. Ultimately though, it was hard for me to get a good read on Mosley from this book. His themes of racial identity are well-integrated into the plot, and the characters are strong. It's just a case of too little information, a situation I'll try to remedy soon.


Carlton Farmer said...

Try Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned. It's not a Rawlins story, but it will give you a pretty good sense of Mosley.

Brent Waggoner said...

Is it standalone? That would be ideal.

Carlton Farmer said...

There may be other books featuring the Socrates Fortlow character, I'm not sure. But either way, Always Outnumbered stands alone just fine.

Christopher said...

Whoa, what a coincidence. My Dad is named Socrates Fortlow.

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