Fall 1992 • Vol. XIV No. 4 Nonfiction |

Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins: The Detective and Afro-American Fiction

I was surprised to see a white man walk into Joppy's bar. It's not just that he was white but he wore an off-white linen suit and shirt with a Panama straw hat and bone shoes over flashing white silk socks. His skin was smooth and pale with just a few freckles. One lick of strawberry-blond hair escaped the band of his hat. He stopped in the doorway, filling it with his large frame, and surveyed the room with pale eyes; not a color I'd ever seen in a man's eyes. When he looked at me I felt a thrill of fear, but that went away quickly because I was used to white people by 1948. (Devil 9) With these words Walter Mosley begins his first detective novel Devil in a Blue Dress (1990). Mosley's narrator is his detective/"hero" Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins, a black World War II veteran, now occupied with trying to make a living in the Los Angeles of 1948. Rawlins's narration makes clear from the very first paragraph that Devil in a Blue Dress will, among other things, concern itself with the

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