Two very powerful features of this Walter Mosely novel stand out for me:
1. Black culture/living from the perspective of the people themselves, and
2. A central figure/hero who is a private detective WITH classic philosophy and other classic understandings accessed in the process of solving mysteries and staying alive in a dangerous world.
That's not all that is worthy of note, but those are the stand outs. Easy Rawlins might be a character in a James Patterson novel, but Patterson could not (or would not) have a hero with the complex understandings that Rawlins exhibits. In a Patterson novel the reader is pretty sure how things might turn out, including that the guy gets the girl. The guy will have the gut reactions of a John Wayne in an old western. But Easy Rawlins is not a Patterson character. Wending his way through landscape unfamiliar to 99.9% of white America, Easy hooks up with some very unlikely characters and situations. The setting is 1967 Los Angeles. This is after the Watts riots, a time when the racial conflicts escalated. Being black in that place and time meant living an insult while America was barely waking up to the sense of injustice of the past centuries. Racial prejudice was automatic and therefore largely unrecognized.
But blackness itself is not the theme of this story. It just happens that the author and his main character are black and therefore see the world (especially the white-dominated world) through that lens. The central story is one of friendship, love, greed, pride and forgiveness.
Read this and be prepared to be pulled into the drama, captured by the mystery and bleeding with... well bleeding, anyway.
Mosely was born in Los Angeles and lives in New York.