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Black Betty (Easy Rawlins #4)

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  3,355 Ratings  ·  118 Reviews
Los Angeles, 1961. Kennedy is in the White House and King is marching down South. It's a new day for many blacks in America - but not for Easy Rawlins.

Easy's small real estate empire is in trouble and he is facing bankruptcy when Saul Lynx, an oily white private eye, offers him $200 to track down on Elizabeth Eady, a.k.a. "Black Betty." The sensuous Betty was a housekeeper
Audio CD, 11 pages
Published July 19th 2002 by Macmillan Audio (first published 1994)
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Larry Bassett
Walter Mosley is a Goodreads experience for me. Never heard of him and never would have except for GR. He seemed like an author I ought to read although out of my normal realm. I am one of those infamous white males. Mosey writes about Easy Rawlins, a black guy immersed in a black milieu of 1960s Los Angeles. So I go to my favorite online used book dealer, , to buy some books in the Easy Rawlins series. As is often the case, the first book in a series is not available used and ch ...more
Alvin Horn
Oct 21, 2012 Alvin Horn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Book Drenched In History January 9, 2003
Review by Judith W. Colombo

Walter Mosley doesn't just write mysteries. He creates a historical landscape peopled with vibrant and authentic characters who like most of us are flawed and lacking in some way. "Black Betty" is Mosley at his best. The mystery is enthralling and many layered, the atmosphere electric, and the villains exquisitely evil.

The time is 1961 the era of Martin Luther King, John Kennedy, and the beginning of The Civil rights movement.
May 17, 2011 Tfitoby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
Wonderfully convoluted as always, this adventure finds Easy Rawlins at his worst; an angry man who makes bad decisions that get people killed. Yet as ever he displays those characteristics which make him a likable noir hero, a willingness to put his life on the line for his beliefs and the pursuit of what's right and true and justice and all that other stuff.

Whilst Mosley is as formulaic as ever there's something infinitely readable about these books, unlike other too predictable authors in the
With Black Betty, Mosley delivers what you'd expect from an Easy Rawlins mystery if you came to it having already read a few others such as I had. The crime to be solved is made to seem convoluted but ultimately turns out to be relatively simple. Yet as with each book in this series it isn't really about the plot. It's about Easy's singular way of seeing and evaluating and dealing with the people he encounters along the way, his perspective on a period of time that seems both long ago and immedi ...more
Rae Lewis-Thornton
Well, it seems that RLT Reads Book Club has gone straight to hell in a hand basket. I know some of it was my fought. Over the last two years my health has been a handful and I have been off my reading game and not able to keep up. Trying to balance my health and all of RLT Brands is two full time jobs wrapped up into one. But I made an executive decision over this past holiday; to take some time for me. Life is to short to not do some of what you enjoy. So I'm back to my favorite pass time on th ...more
Brandon Mueller
Mar 22, 2012 Brandon Mueller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a spectacular book! I have no idea how Walter Mosley does it! Once again, Walter Mosley has put together another one of his amazing mystery-crime novels, and this time, I think that he has done his absolute best so far. This man simply knows how to write mystery novels, and he does it in a way unlike any other mystery book I have read. This novel, "Black Betty", is part of the "Easy Rawlins Mystery Series", and it is the fourth book in the series. Like his previous books in the series, this ...more
Dec 10, 2009 Flying_Monkey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Walter Mosley manages to be an extraordinarily prolific writer but at the same time one of great quality, who has shown equal facility in tough but politically and socially literate crime writing and also in witty and wise post-modern science-fiction.

Black Betty is a fine demonstration of his craft. His particular skill is in weaving the world into his tales. The mystery is well-constructed and satisfyingly tangled, featuring multiple murders, corruption and racial and class divisions. However t
aPriL does feral sometimes
The most complex and very good. However, very very dark. Innocence cannot be preserved on any level. Easy is so smart but he is full of uncontrolled demons. Only his children save him from his worst impulses. He seems to pursue justice to spite the universe rather than to help, especially since victory against bad guys is temporary and the saved are rarely deserving except for perhaps possessing charm, beauty or bruised trustfulness.
RK Byers
Sep 13, 2009 RK Byers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
probably the best book in the Rawlings series.
Mar 20, 2010 rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, own, black-lit
I'm not quite sure how to rate this one. I more than just "liked it," because it's hard not to become involved in the lives of Mosley's complex, beaten-down characters and admire the writer who is able to write a simple mystery plot three dimensionally. Easy Rawlins is not the only real person in this book; all of them seem like flesh and blood humans. Mosley manages to create real characters while also giving Easy's voice a genuine noir cadence, which sounds authentic to Easy rather than being ...more
Carl Alves
Set in 1961 in Los Angeles, Easy Rawlins, a former private investigator who specializes in finding people that need to be found in the black community, is hired on to find an old acquaintance of his, Black Betty. Easy isn’t the only one who is looking for her. Betty was working as a house keeper for a wealthy family, whose patriarch was murdered—the same man who has fathered her children. As Easy is investigating, Betty’s family members start dying as he unveils a conspiracy involving the police ...more
Jo Ann Fishburn
Oct 31, 2009 Jo Ann Fishburn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Easy Rawlins. He is honorable and courageous, able to show his vulnerability, loving and loyal, especially with his wonderful kids and his friends (not all so wonderful). That said, I think I have to stop reading the series for awhile. The world in which Easy lives is so vicious and violent that it casts a darkness over your life when you're reading the books. I've read chronologically the first five in the series, which are set in Texas and LA from WWII to the presidency of JFK and the c ...more
Feb 11, 2017 Jake rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably the best Easy Rawlins book I've read, either this one or Devil In A Blue Dress. I do wish Mosley would ease off the B plots and deep background to just focus on the murder mystery. That's what prevented me from giving it a half star. Still a very good book from a very good series.
Zen Cho
I find Mosley's books very entertaining and easy to read. I'm still not sure what to think of his treatment of gender, but I should think he's a lot better on women than other writers of noowah, and he's a LOT better on race.

I recognised the structure of this story -- millions of things happening to an increasingly stressed out, bleedy dude who is cynical but secretly wants to do good -- from pretty much all of Terry Pratchett's Watch books. Vimes is a noir detective! How funny that I might neve
Technically I listened to a BBC radio play dramatization of this, but whatever I'm counting it as reading the book. The character Easy Rawlins was really interesting and the mystery was intriguing. I had a few quibbles with the radio play version (some of the acting was not good, and it felt like the action was too condensed) but I'm 100% sure these are not faults of the book. Definitely intrigued to read more books featuring this detective!
May 30, 2009 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
another of the Easy Rawlins stories. Interesting characters, thoughtfully used to illustrate deeper social conditions and relationships, especially racial. But without really beating you over the head with it. You root for some, you hope some get the come-uppance they deserve. Only on a rare occasion, do they slip a little into charicature, or stereotype.
Jan 04, 2014 Cindy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love the atmosphere Mosley creates of post-war (WWII) LA. Had a bit of trouble keeping the characters straight, but as the conclusion approached, they all came together. Very good mystery/detective book. Because several of the characters use dialect in their speech, I would love to listen to these books. Sometimes I have to slow down to read that.
Jan 24, 2009 SUSAN OWEN GLASER rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

May 05, 2009 Erik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the way Walter Mosley depicts the time of the 50s and 60s. He described places I visit now in LA during this time. And you find yourself wondering… Great book. Read the complete serious when you can, you’ll embrace the characters.
Feb 18, 2009 Murvin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easy reading; won of my favorite in the series.
Jun 14, 2009 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
One of the Easy Rawlins series. Read this immediately after the Socrates books - and I think I like Mosley's ex-con short stories more! But I'm a fan of just about anything he's written.
Jeff Tucker
Apr 05, 2009 Jeff Tucker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Walter Mosley mysteries and this is another good one.
What can I say? I am a Walter Mosely FAN!!! I have read just about EVERYthing he published. I especially like the Easy Rawlins stories. i wish they would do more movies of his work too.
Nov 17, 2016 Rodger rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It reminded me a great deal of "Chinatown." The plot isn't quite as tight as some previously Easy Rawlins books.
Nov 28, 2015 George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Stuck up Republicans
Very Enjoyable, but the unraveling of Betty's life is a little hard to follow. In fact i did a bad thing with a library copy going back and underlining certain key phrases, and making a few notes.

It touches on a very sensitive topic of "mixed" relations. It was kind of clear Albert Cain was probably intimate w/betty, but was unclear was whose offspring was whom's. The best example of this was Terry "the boxer" Mother was betty but who was dad ? Cain ? Hawkes ? maybe. Sarah Cain's demise a little
Nov 02, 2013 Marcus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Black Betty features the return of Easy Rawlins. He is once again plunged into a mystery, this time involving a mysterious temptress from his past "Elizabeth Eady" or "Black Betty". Mouse has just been freed from jail and looking for someone to murder and that someone might be Easy!

Black Betty is a more sophisticated tale than White Butterfly featuring many more characters and plot twists. The book actually includes 2-3 subplots - (1) Where is Black Betty? (2) Who put Mouse in jail and who will
Sep 11, 2016 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read as a 1 act radio play, this novelette was a quick mystery. The performance was intreguing while the script was simple. Fun listening!
Mar 30, 2015 Martin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Started off so great: all the details of Easy's life that I love -- where he's living, how are the kids, and still debating literature with Miss Eto at the library (Easy identifies with both Huck and Jim, depending on the situation, and banning Twain from schools smacks of white people's discomfort with racism). There is a large cast of characters, and I sometimes had difficulty keeping everyone straight. Many of the old characters are still around but on the periphery. The central mystery start ...more
Sean Cronin
Apr 09, 2011 Sean Cronin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's probably no surprise to folks on this book-club site - Mosley is a terrific crime novelist.
"Black Betty" is an Easy Rawlins story and Easy is about as tough, worldly and taciturn as any private detective by an active author. For those new to Mosley, Easy is African American, WWII vet, L.A. and this story takes place in the early 1960s. Other books are further back or further forward in time. I don't know the temporal sequence Mosley uses (if any).
Easy is hired, by a white man, to find Black
This book was entertaining, however don't look for much depth in the Easy Rawlins novels. Mosley tend to talk too much about how hard it is to be a black man in 1950's LA but you never really feel the anguish. Easy's situations are too far fetched. It's simply not believable. These feeling may have come out because I've read a few too many Easy Rawlin's novels and frankly its hard to differentiate between them. Standard formula: woman in trouble in black part of town because she has messed aroun ...more
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Walter Mosley (b. 1952) is the author of the bestselling mystery series featuring Easy Rawlins, as well as numerous other works, from literary fiction and science fiction to a young adult novel and political monographs. His short fiction has been widely published, and his nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times Magazine and the Nation, among other publications. Mosley is the winner of numero ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Easy Rawlins (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Devil in a Blue Dress (Easy Rawlins, #1)
  • A Red Death (Easy Rawlins #2)
  • White Butterfly (Easy Rawlins #3)
  • A Little Yellow Dog (Easy Rawlins #5)
  • Gone Fishin' (Easy Rawlins #6)
  • Bad Boy Brawly Brown (Easy Rawlins #7)
  • Six Easy Pieces (Easy Rawlins #8)
  • Little Scarlet (Easy Rawlins #9)
  • Cinnamon Kiss (Easy Rawlins #10)
  • Blonde Faith (Easy Rawlins #11)

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“I understood about fear. And I knew better than anyone in that room what Mouse was capable of. But still I had been raised in a place where to show your fear was worse than cowardice. It was suicide, a sin.” 6 likes
“THERE ARE FEW THINGS as beautiful as a glass bottle filled with deep amber whiskey. Liquor shines when the light hits it, reminiscent of precious things like jewels and gold. But whiskey is better than some lifeless bracelet or coronet. Whiskey is a living thing capable of any emotion that you are. It’s love and deep laughter and brotherhood of the type that bonds nations together. Whiskey is your friend when nobody else comes around. And whiskey is solace that holds you tighter than most lovers can. I thought all that while looking at my sealed bottle. And I knew for a fact that it was all true. True the way a lover’s pillow talk is true. True the way a mother’s dreams for her napping infant are true. But the whiskey mind couldn’t think its way out of the problems I had. So I took Mr. Seagram’s, put him in his box, and placed him up on the shelf where he belonged.” 2 likes
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