Reviewed by Jesse Sublett, Fri., Sept. 16, 2005
by Walter Mosley
Little, Brown, 320 pp., $24.95Walter Mosley fans will want to pick up his latest Easy Rawlins mystery, Cinnamon Kiss, right away. The novel is set during 1967, the summer of love, and as Mosley readers will be aware, Easy Rawlins finds himself deeply concerned about the future of the black community in the wake of the 1965 Watts riots, and yet he also takes pleasure in the fact that the social contract between blacks and whites has been forever altered. Nowadays, he can talk back to the white man with much less fear of terrible repercussions. And yet this story finds him facing his most troubling set of dilemmas yet. His daughter, Feather, needs medical treatments that cost far more than most people of his stature might earn in a lifetime. Should he join Mouse in a planned armored car robbery? Should he begrudge his mate, Bonnie, for betraying him in order to secure Feather a place in the exclusive Swiss facility that may save her life?
As in most Mosley crime novels, the mystery plot is a combination of the Byzantine and the basic. An eccentric, wealthy attorney from San Francisco has disappeared, along with his beautiful assistant, "Cinnamon" Cargill. Rawlins is hired to find them by an obnoxious, equally eccentric character named Robert E. Lee. Yes. Should I mention that this reclusive and imperious Civil War buff is a midget? Rawlins delights in cutting Lee further down to size. The case, which involves a legacy of another form of racism a family's Nazi entanglements in World War II takes our hero to counterculture ground zero, and guess what? He has a fine time among these liberated souls, white and black. He smokes pot, enjoys free love, and he solves the case the most macabre murder yet in the series and I'm not going to reveal anything else. Mosley is one of the most humane, insightful, powerful prose stylists working today in any genre. He's also one of the most radical. Be hip, read this book, and immerse yourself in the work of one of our national treasures.