Walter Mosley,
Fear Itself
(Time Warner, 2003)

Fearless Jones barges full speed ahead in Walter Mosley's Fear Itself. It means trouble for Paris Minton, whose bookish, mild manner hides a razor-sharp mind. Reluctant to get involved when Fearless tells him about a missing husband case, he joins in the search to keep an eye on his old friend. Neither Fearless nor Paris has any idea of the number of people with a stake in this missing person mystery that turns out to be something dangerous.

The most powerful person in Fear Itself is the one with the most money, Winifred Fine. Her interest is in the old manuscript that details the chronicle of the Fine family. The book is missing and autocratic Winifred is not pleased. If she were a queen, heads would roll. As it is, it can be deadly to cross her. And it doesn't help that Paris is completely awed by this woman. How Fearless and Paris cope in this powder keg is the rest of the story. A wonderful plot twist, typical of Mosley's work, ties up the loose ends in the final chapters. It feels right though it is not without its irony.

I never finish a Mosley book without wanting to write a truly gushy fan letter, which I think he would hate. I would tell him about the way his characters, even those with walk-on parts, come alive as I read or listen. It is in the way they talk with each person as different as a fingerprint. I am beguiled by their names -- Gina Jones, Milo Sweet, Ambrosia, Leora, Tristan, Winifred Fine, Fearless Jones and Paris Minton. It's the characters that win the prize every time. If I were new to Mosley's books, I'd begin with his first books and read the rest in the order they were written to trace his developing, awesome talent.

Don Cheadle reads Fear Itself as if he listens more carefully than most people to voices and the way they reveal character the way body English does. His Paris sounds thoughtful and careful, Fearless speaks impulsively and Winifred sounds intimidating but well-organized -- just the take a reader expects from a reader of Cheadle's professional stature. Filmgoers may recall Cheadle's starring role in Mosley's Devil in a Blue Dress and a long line of films since then.

- Rambles
written by Jean Marchand
published 29 November 2003

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