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Charcoal Joe: An Easy Rawlins Mystery    by Walter Mosley order for
Charcoal Joe
by Walter Mosley
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Walter Mosley's writing seems so effortless, and I guess after 50 books, that is the reward of practice. Charcoal Joe depicts a piece of Los Angeles in the '60s and '70s, the piece that belongs to the 'dark nation.' This is where people in difficult circumstances have their difficulties multiplied because of race.

Easy Rawlins has been asked to clear up a wrongful murder charge leveled at a 22-year-old Ph.D., the son of a gangster in jail. At the same time, Easy has to deal with his personal and business lives, which are fairly complicated. Easy is definitely the master of his craft. He susses out who has done what; he knows when he needs help; and he always knows how to help the persons he meets. He is almost unbelievable, but that doesn't interfere with our interest in the story. It's a fine take on what life is like for people who have to factor in racism for every move they make. It's also a bloody take - many lives are lost, and Mosley shows the inevitability of it all in this world.

The cast of characters is plentiful, and I'm thinking many have appeared in earlier works. They are all unique and truly well-depicted. Seymour, the young Ph.D., plays only a minor role, but as intelligent as he is, even he has a thing or two to learn. It's all very complicated, but in Easy's hands, we work our way through to the explanations we need.

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