Penzler Pick, June 2001: Those of us who have been waiting for Walter Mosley to return to mystery writing--and there are many of us--have cause to rejoice. Not only has Mosley written a mystery, he is introducing a new character who could turn out to be as popular as Easy Rawlins.|
Fearless Jones has a lot in common with Easy, but he also has some characteristics reminiscent of Socrates Fortlow, the "hero" of Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned. When the story begins, the reader is transported to the Los Angeles of the 1950s, a dangerous place and time for a black man. But Paris Minton seems to have beaten the odds. He owns a moderately successful and very satisfying business--a used book store. He spends the time he's not in the store scouring libraries for discarded books and selling them in just enough quantity to be independent and happy. Yes, he is visited on a regular basis by members of the LAPD who want him to prove to them that he did not steal the books, but that is a small price to pay for independence.
Minton's peaceful life is interrupted one day when a beautiful woman walks into his store and asks for the Reverend William Grove. In no time flat, Paris has been beaten into unconsciousness by a man following her and has been rewarded by the woman with sex. The lovely Elana Love is obviously trouble, but Paris jumps in feet first and, as a consequence, his store is burned to the ground. It is obviously time to call in Fearless Jones, a man well named. Jones is afraid of nothing, but there is a little matter to be taken care of before he can help. He's in jail and Paris must raise bail to get him out. Once he does that, the pair embark on a wild ride through Los Angeles on behalf of Elana Love. As always, Mosley depicts the hard-boiled L.A. in a powerful and distinctive way, and we can only hope that this is the first of a series.
Source: Otto Penzler, Amazon.com.
Paris Minton is minding his own business--a small used bookstore of which he is the proud proprietor--when a beautiful woman named Elana Love walks in and asks a few questions. Within the next twenty-four hours, Paris has been beaten up, made love to, shot at, and robbed, and his bookstore has been burned to the ground. He's in so much trouble he has no choice but to get his friend Fearless Jones out of jail to help. Fearless Jones is an army veteran, a man who is proud of his accomplishments during World War II, and refuses to step into the background now that the war is over. Violence dogs Fearless's every step, and Paris has tried to keep his distance. But there's no friend like the one you need. The two set out to find the elusive Elana Love, and every step leads them deeper into a bewildering vortex of money and betrayal. Their questions bring out a ruthless and racist cop, a gang of vicious ex-cons, and an elderly Jewish woman who is as determined to help the two friends as others are to harm them. These two Black men in 1950s Los Angeles have few rights, little money, and no recourse under attack. But they have their friends, their wits, and their knowledge of the way the world really works to help them prevail.
Written with the blazing pace of noir classics like The Maltese Falcon, Fearless Jones also possesses the humor and original insights into American places and characters that have made Walter Mosley one of the most admired writers of our time.