Sunday, March 24, 2013

Blonde Faith (Walter Mosley, 2007)

Me and Easy Rawlins go way back. Almost two decades ago I saw Devil in a Blue Dress and was completely blown away by this masterpiece. Simply one of the best neo-noirs ever! There are just a few ways how to make these movies right and many ways how to fuck them up. Carl Franklin had great material to work with and obviously knew his shit. If you are not convinced by the Devil, check out One False Move, another insanely cool flick of his. Too bad he's not making movies anymore, seems to be living comfortable life in the TV land...

So it was the most promising beginning of a would-be beautiful friendship. But somehow and unfortunately Mosley's books haven't been always as great as I'd hoped for. Plots sometimes too complicated (Black Betty, 1994) and overwhelmed by not really essential topics and personal crap that often just slows down the pace. Also had problems every now and then with a too academic and little bit forced language. It just felt like Mosley would prefer writing "serious" prose instead of pulp novels.

For those same reasons (and a few more) I didn't like his most recent detective Leonid McGill (The Long Fall, 2009) and had hesitated a bit when I saw Blonde Faith in a local bookstore selling for a mere 5 euros. But what the hell, this is still Ezekiel Fucking Rawlins with a great legacy that deserves a big respect. And besides, 5 euros is a cost of a pint of Guinness in Dublin...

And it starts okay and according to the genre rules. In the opening chapter we get briefly re-acquainted with Easy. He's on the job searching for his friend's runaway teen-aged daughter. He quickly finds this brat who's been street walking and after efficiently dealing with her pimp (Porky the Pig !!) he returns her home to the father explaining him that she's now a full-grown woman and not a child anymore. Cool, his methods and morals are as sound as ever. Later on we also learn that he owns two houses and three apartments building. He's on the wagon, but still smoking (just because he doesn't care if he dies). So things are going smooth for Easy. He even passes 20 bucks bills to homeless people!

After this opening it's time for a mandatory plot conception. And we get two in this one - our detective's (btw - he's finally licensed PI now) first assignment is to find his friend and fellow detective who has left his daughter in Easy's care. His second task is to find his crazy friend Mouse who's wanted by the police for killing a man in a bit odd circumstances. And right away I had a problem with this because I don't really like family shit to be mixed up too much in my crime novels. But no real worries yet, I was still enjoying it.

But then, after going through the first few chapters, I realized that this was going to be only about the family shit and not much else. In fact Easy manages to break the case on the page 152 (of 300+)! And from that point on we need to endure his midlife crisis, racism and war criticism, rambling about humanity in general and - certainly most painfully for me - his self-pity about the lost of love-of-his-life Bonnie. This shit is unbearable and reaches its peak in absurd scene when he breaks into some chick's apartment and then spends an hour and half on a phone whining to his girlfriend about his life and failed relationship with Bonnie. Crazy stuff, I have no idea what Mosley was trying to say or achieve with this one. I respect him enough to assume this crap is in the book for a reason, I just can't see one.

Ending is not important, at least not plot-wise. To be honest, it was just a relief to be over with it. Both aforementioned plots are entwined (surprise, fucking surprise!), Mouse finally arrives on the scene and Easy masterfully manipulates bloodthirsty police and saves his family and his friend etc etc etc

I really wanted to like this book but it was true struggle for at least two thirds. What was Mosley thinking, was he pressured by his publishing company? Or, since this seems to be a final book of the series, got he simply bored with his most famous character and wanted to bury him? But even so the guy would deserve more decent burial.



Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins, 47 now and licensed P.I.


Body count: 7

Lots of them and Easy even scores with  two. My favorite would probably be Pretty Smart (short, built to populate the countryside, and lovely in a way that Christians interpreted the sin). But it's of course all about his ex-wife Bonnie. With absolute zero impact on the story she's still overwhelming.

I'm not sure, I think there's one that qualifies. Easy gets totally mental because some assholes endangered his house (=his family!) so he loses his senses and simply wakes up next day in his friend's house.

Another one beyond me. There is a character nicknamed "Blonde Faith" but she's really just a minor one. Maybe title was suggested/enforced by the publishing company in order to hide its depressing content and make it more marketable (btw - what a terrible expression that is, right?) 

Very dull. Worth pointing out that letters used for printing Mosley's name are even bigger than ones used for the title itself. And I hate when they do that! And back we are at that "marketable" thing...

Cool lines:  
"Can I help you?" he asked in a Texas drawl that I felt all the way down to the soles of my feet. Then my right testicle began aching, and I knew that the dark side of my mind was preparing to go to war. 

They looked up at me like two soldiers from vastly disparate battlefields who had died simultaneously and were now sitting in Limbo awaiting the verdict of Valhalla.[The Coolest!]

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