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A Red Death (Easy Rawlins #2)

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  3,077 Ratings  ·  164 Reviews
It's 1953, a time when Red-baiting was official policy, and racial tensions boiled. Easy Rawlins is in deep trouble. A corrupt, racist IRS agent is breathing down his neck about some unpaid taxes. His only out: cut a deal with the FBI to infiltrate the First African Baptist Church and spy on a former World War II resistance fighter suspected of stealing some top secret gov ...more
Hardcover, 284 pages
Published May 19th 2004 by Serpents Tail (first published January 1st 1991)
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Feb 26, 2013 Carol. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: noir fans looking for something different
Recommended to Carol. by: Me! I found Easy on my own. But Bill Clinton likes him too.

Mosley takes the traditional hard-boiled detective mystery and gives it a refreshing spin by spotlighting African-American communities. His lead, Easy Rawlins, is a Louisiana/Texas transplant now working in L.A. as a janitor, maintaining the building he surreptitiously owns. As any decent detective fiction, the city plays a prominent role in the life of the detective and Mosley nicely captures a range of African-American experiences in period L.A.

Easy is in a tough spot and is hoping Mofass, th
It’s been said that nothing is certain but death and taxes. Easy Rawlins has dealt with plenty of death as a black World War II veteran who also has been mixed up with very bad people in post-war Los Angeles. But this time he’ll have to deal with taxes, too. Which is worse? Ask Al Capone.

Set in the early ‘50s, it’s been a few years since Easy’s introduction in Devil in a Blue Dress, and he has set himself up nicely by taking advantage of an illicit windfall to buy some apartment buildings as wel
Feb 21, 2011 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
...because I said I'd probably change my mind in twenty four hours and it's been almost exactly twenty four hours...

Forgive me for a moment while I engage in a small bit of phenomenological bracketing (or maybe this is something like deconstruction) and put aside for a moment the race of the characters and the socio-historical context that the story is set in and just focus on the skeletal remains of the book. What I'm left with is the story of a tax evader who the law catches up with and offers
Jan 30, 2012 Tfitoby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
Easy Rawlins is such a great character for a noir novel simply because Walter Mosley writes him with such a clear and unique voice.

Even in this relatively disappointing follow-up to Devil in a Blue Dress he is highly enjoyable as a man primarily looking after himself in a series of intrigues, fights, double crosses and sexual encounters used as an exploration of race differences in American society in 1952.

In this novel EVERYONE is the bad guy, including Easy. He might be looking to protect hims
Sep 08, 2014 Alex rated it really liked it
Wow, I love this series. Despite the plot being a little clunky, the action never slows. The second book in the Easy Rawlins series, this time it is 1953 and Easy is up to his neck in trouble with the IRS and the FBI is on his case to help them weed out communists in the local community of Watts.

Mosley's real talent in this series is how he manages to portray the racial aspects of life as a black man in 1950s America; sadly highlighting how very little has changed. The dialogue is a joy and the
Jul 13, 2012 Algernon rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
A step back in appeal for me after Devil in a Blue Dress , but still an interesting trip to the West Coast black ghetto in the fifties, at the height of the Communist witchhunt.
Easy Rawlins is already established as the main character in this second mystery/thriller featuring him, so I expected some better pacing, easier to follow plot. It was instead a bit of a muddle with several separate murders that feel shoehorned / forced into one narrative. So what is really the connection between an appa
Tim Pendry
Fair warning is due - it takes you a third of the way before this book takes fire and the ending (which shall not be revealed here) is the usual sub-Chandleresque rush of confused data that plays the same role, in this genre, as the 'deus ex machina' once did in courtly drama - BUT the core of the book is brilliant.

Why is Mosley so good when he is good (and when he is not stuck in the usual problem of series writers that he has to recapitulate so much for late entrants)? Because he writes with p
A long time ago I decided never again to read crime fiction written by a man. I was so disappointed by the James Patterson "Women's Murder Club" book that I read (I actually felt it was worse than Patricia Cornwall!), that I decided that was it. No more male writers.

But there came a day when I needed a heck of a lot of mental distraction on my (hour-long) drive home from work, and when I went to the library I discovered that they had four Mosley audio books and another four or five *books* of hi
aPriL does feral sometimes
Unbelievably good. Constructed tight as a drum. Rawlins would have made an excellent Roman Patrician. His intelligence which works on three layers of reality at all times plus a ruthlessness worthy of a Julius Caesar helps him maneuver through so many circles - police, Black businessmen, Jewish concentration camp survivors, Black church institutional support, Latino businessmen, the IRS, FBI, murderous white prejudice - all while surviving the paranoid Communist hunting of the 1950's. When this ...more
Mosley's great talent in his Easy Rawlins mysteries is how he gives his protagonist multiple voices and the ability to bend himself to the specific people he's interacting with, and this one's a particularly fine example as Easy's ability to slide in and out of different personas is crucial to his entanglement with the feds. Too often in mystery, authors oversimplify by creating characters who fall into that bluntly honest/call 'em like I see 'em mold that unfortunately robs them of depth and nu ...more
We're back to the American detectives in my class, and are on the adventures of Easy Rawlins - who I guess can't really be called a detective at all. He's not a private eye like Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe, he's not a retired detective like Poirot, and he's not even one of those armchair detectives like Miss Marple or Sherlock Holmes. I guess the best way to describe Easy Rawlins is as a sort of mercenary. If someone needs a job done, he does it. If they want protection from somebody, he'll do i ...more
Apr 25, 2014 Joe rated it liked it
This is the first sequel to "Devil in a Blue Dress" and is a marked step down in quality. Still very enjoyable writing and great social commentary on what it meant to be a black man in Los Angeles in the 1950's but this time there was a bit too much commentary and a bit too little mystery. In fact, it kind of felt like Mosley forgot about the mystery and tacked on the mystery at the very end. Also, the final 'bad guy' was cartoonish and strange. Too many dangling threads were left out there for ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Not quite as strong as the later 'Little Scarlet', the only other Easy Rawlings novel I've read so far. It's a bit overpopulated for one thing and the narrative gets a little shapeless halfway through. The narrative voice is spot on though, down to earth and eloquent, with a dash of dark humour. '"God gives you what you earn, Mr. Rawlings." That seemed like a terrible curse coming from such a kind woman.'

Moral ambiguity abounds as Easy and his associates seem every bit as villainous as the peop
This is a mesmerizing novel chock full of mystery, thrills, African American settings and history, and social commentary for the U.S. 1950's that is still relevant today. Easy Rawlins is in many ways at the mercy of events and his own hot emotions, but in other ways he is a skillful detective and social orchestrator who uses his knowledge of his African American community to get at the elusive truths.

I liked this book better than the first in this series. I'm still not giving it 5 stars, (for on
John Bell
Jan 28, 2012 John Bell rated it liked it
I was a HUGE fan of Devil in a Blue Dress and had been meaning to read the follow up A Red Death for a long time. For all of my excitement, I was ultimately disappointed after I finished it. It's not a terrible book by any stretch. Walter Mosley is an exceptional writer who is able to capture the mood and setting of 1940s Los Angeles better than any writer this side of Raymond Chandler. But I found the second Easy Rawlings story to be flat carbon copy of its predecessor, with few surprises and l ...more
Apr 05, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My name’s Ezekiel Rawlins, but you c’n call me Easy. I do favors for folks what need favors done for ‘em. You may’ve heard o’ me from my first book (“Devil In a Blue Dress”). This second story happened ‘bout eight years down the road from that. I’s tryin’ to live respect’ble, but got myselfs in a heap o' trouble with the taxman and th’ only way to do myselfs a favor was to help th’ FBI track down some communists that were infiltratin’ th' First African Baptist church. ‘Fore I knows it, the polic ...more
Jul 01, 2012 Melanie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Stanley Bennett Clay is an excellent reader-- he does a fine job of bringing 50's Watts and its people alive for the listener. An interesting premise, to place Easy Rawlins, the protagonist, at the heart of the 50's red scare. Also compelling to examine/experience racism from the black point of view. I suppose this is intended to be crime fiction in the noir tradition: the authority figures (white people) are all bad, the women are all sex objects, and most of the characters are violent, reactiv ...more
David B
Dec 30, 2013 David B rated it really liked it
Some years after the events of "Devil in a Blue Dress," Easy Rawlins's real estate investments are doing quite well. Unfortunately, he hasn't been paying taxes on them, which gets him involved with a government espionage investigation and a nasty tax man. At the same time, Easy's old flame shows up with her son, having left her husband Mouse, who happens to be Easy's friend and a sociopathic killer.

Walter Mosley has written another fine mystery. Its setting, the black culture of 1950s Los Angele
Feb 09, 2012 Benjamin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Jackson Blue on the McCarthy-era blacklist: "Yo' name ain't on that list, Easy. My name ain't neither. You know why? They don't need yo' name to know you black, Easy. ... One day they gonna th'ow that list away ..." I won't quote the rest because he gets excited and starts using the n-word. How could I not love an Easy Rawlins mystery that involves Jewish Communist Party members, Garvey-ites, and scary bad-asses with names like Mofass? I liked this better than Devil in a Blue Dress, even.
Laila (BigReadingLife)
Normally I like to start a series at the beginning, but I couldn't get a copy of the first one and decided to just go with it. Mosley does a good job of filling the reader in on the back story. This one was interesting, very hardboiled/noir-ish, good setting in LA in the 1950s. Easy Rawlins is a complicated character, which I appreciate. It felt a bit sexist for me, though - all the women were "begging for it" a little too much. I'm trying to read more authors of color and I knew Mosley is a res ...more
May 20, 2010 Lauren rated it liked it
I really would love to give this book one more star, but I felt like the beginning really dragged. I loved the end, but it just seemed to be forever before the story got any where. With Mosley's two other Easy Rawlin books I have read, I'm hooked within the first couple of chapters. What I did like is that we learn more about Easy Rawlins background with Mouse and Ettamae. Also, being a history major and having learned about Marcus Garvey and the African Migration movement it was interesting to ...more
Feb 20, 2009 Babydoll rated it really liked it
Walter Mosley is a profound author who is able to catapult the reader into a compelling novel consistenting of suspense, passion, violence, and humor. Mosley does a phenomenal job of depicting the characters in a raw and blunt style of writing. His unhibited writing style especially intrigues the reader to main character, Ezekiel 'Easy' Rawlins' audacious life. I was pleased by this novel and am eager to read the next in the series entitled, 'White Butterfly'. I recommend this book to anyone who ...more
Sep 26, 2014 L rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
Mosley writes a lot of violence and an almost casual approach to it, both of which disturb me. At the same time, his characters are so well drawn--living, breathing people--that I can't resist his Easy Rawlins series. And here, he takes on Red baiting, a problem much reduced from the heyday of Mccarthyism, but certainly not gone. Read this one!
Kirsty Darbyshire
Jun 16, 2011 Kirsty Darbyshire rated it liked it
For me this was definitely better than the first book in the series: Devil in a Blue Dress. I found this a much easier read with a more together plot. Easy gets involved in following a suspected Communist when he ends up doing a favour for the government to get out of trouble with unpaid taxes. After this book it's much clearer why everybody raves about this series.
May 26, 2009 Bruce rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
I enjoyed the characters well enough but it just felt that Mosley took the long way around to get to the end on this one. Still, it was a fun read and I'll be looking forward to the next book in the series.
Yulande Lindsay
Jun 19, 2011 Yulande Lindsay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easy Rawlins simply cannot catch a break! Why am I constantly hearing jazz in my head when I read Walter Mosley? Loved it. As I said, I love my heroes deeply flawed and conflicted and Easy fits the bill. Genius stuff.
Nov 01, 2008 Adam rated it liked it
Read this a while back. The Easy Rawlins stories are a great spin on the hard boiled detective novel
Jul 27, 2012 Sara rated it it was amazing
The writing, particularly the heavily elegiacal quality to the stories, is just amazing and truly moving.
Steven Yenzer
May 18, 2017 Steven Yenzer rated it really liked it
Shelves: poc-pov
I just really love Mosley's storytelling and characters. They all behave in such human and unexpected ways. A Red Death threatened a clichéd start but quickly turned interesting, and stayed enthralling through the end.
Charles Moore
Mar 14, 2017 Charles Moore rated it it was ok
A Red Death by Walter Mosley. This would be the second Easy Rawlins story and is I think Mosley's attempt at writing about how he saw the African experience in Los Angeles in the days of McCarthyism. At one level, his political intrigue is not very intriguing and his establishing an IRS agent as racist and blackmailer is not very convincing. I am reminded a bit of Hammett's Red Harvest as essentially a mystery set within the greater scare of communism and racism. Chandler expressed the idea that ...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
More about Walter Mosley...

Other Books in the Series

Easy Rawlins (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Devil in a Blue Dress (Easy Rawlins, #1)
  • White Butterfly (Easy Rawlins #3)
  • Black Betty (Easy Rawlins #4)
  • 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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“Mouse was the truest friend I ever had. And if there is such a thing as true evil, he was that too.” 3 likes
“A man who is already insane was frightening enough, but when he goes crazy...” 3 likes
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