Walter Mosley,
Little Scarlet
(Time Warner, 2004)

It is 1965. Race riots have just recently torn up Los Angeles. Several people died in the riots, but one murder didn't show up in the press. The victim was a black woman. The reason her death was suppressed, even from the back pages of the newspaper, was that the perpetrator might have been a white man. And the last thing Los Angeles needed at that moment was another spark to re-ignite the race war.

You see, during the height of the rioting, this white man drove into a black neighborhood. With tensions raised as they were, you can understand that he was yanked out of his vehicle and severely beaten. Somehow he managed to escape into a nearby apartment building. This is where Little Scarlet -- that's Nola Payne -- lived until she was murdered. It was a gruesome murder. She had sex before she died and she was shot in one eye! The white man disappeared. Why would he disappear if he was innocent?

The police need to investigate and they need to find this white man. But they can't just go waltzing into this black neighborhood; that, too, might stoke the fire, so to speak. That is where Easy Rawlins comes into this tale by Walter Mosley called Little Scarlet. Known as a private investigator, although not a licensed one, Easy has been hired by the police to be their eyes and ears where they can't go. During the course of his investigation, Easy discovers that the rage of the city is even stronger in the killer he seeks. Little Scarlet was not this guy's first victim. Nor will she be his last if he isn't found and stopped.

Mosley, an accomplished writer, has written several Easy Rawlins novels. Yet this one can stand on its own if it is your first introduction to the series. You might even recognize the character of Easy if you've seen the 1995 film Devil in a Blue Dress with Denzel Washington.

Michael Boatman reads Little Scarlet in about 7.5 hours. Michael has been on many television shows, including Law & Order, Spin City and China Beach. As for Little Scarlet, it doesn't seem to matter if a character is black or white, male or female, young or old, Michael gives each of them a unique voice.

In short, Walter Mosley has another great book with Little Scarlet. With Michael Boatman's help, you too will experience the feelings of fear, hate and loathing that accompanied this turbulent time in history. The story may be a work of fiction, but you will feel like this could very easily be a true bit of Los Angeles' past.

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 9 April 2005

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