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A Red Death

(Easy Rawlins #2)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  4,410 ratings  ·  282 reviews
'It has come to my attention, sir, that between August 1948 and September of 1952 you came into possession of at least three real estate properties. I have reviewed your tax records back to 1945 and you show no large income, in any year. This would suggest that you could not legally afford such expenditures...'
When an income tax officer makes him an offer he can't refuse,
Hardcover, 284 pages
Published May 19th 2004 by Serpents Tail (first published January 1st 1991)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  4,410 ratings  ·  282 reviews

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Brown Girl Reading
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovesrs of Easy Rawlins series and detective/crime novels
I'm loving this series and I'm not a series person. Easy Rawlins is lovable even when he messes up. You're still still behind him. Mosley continues to paint a vivd picture of blacks living in racist America in the 1940s, specifically in and around Los Angeles. The story has recurring characters, murder, and enough ups and downs to keep any reader interested. I love the old crime detective feel of the novel. If you're participating in March Mystery Madness you might want to check these out. ...more
Feb 26, 2013 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
Cheryl James
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Book 2 to a epic series. Walter Mosley is an awesome author who has written an awesome series of crime at it's best. ...more
Feb 21, 2011 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 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
Jan 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Not as good as the first one and didn't really hook me like the first one but still an enjoyable series and I'm interested in what will happen next. ...more
Sep 08, 2014 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
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
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jul 13, 2012 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
Elizabeth (Alaska)
The GR description says this is set in 1953. However, this was first published in 1991 and not especially in any 1950s style that I have read. Example: This is definitely not erotic, but there are more erections in the 275 or so pages than any 1950s novel would give you. Easy Rawlins was definitely more lusty here than I remember from Devil in a Blue Dress.

It seems there are plenty of plot threads and I had a hard time keeping up with them. I wasn't alone. Easy didn't seem to see how everything
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
An excellent Easy Rawlins mystery that has a lot of moving parts and complexity but avoids becoming too convoluted.
Marty Fried
Aug 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
I didn't like this as much as the first one, but it was still a good read. It was a bit complicated, especially for an audiobook, but not bad.

What I like most about both so far is that it takes me to a world that is very different; a different time, different place, and a different culture. It's still very accessible and understandable, though.
Teresa Rokas
Feb 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mosley recreates the atmosphere of L.A. and Watts in 1953 with it's red baiting, blacklisting and racism. Easy Rawlins is a likeable, but highly flawed character. The mystery keeps you on the edge of your seat. ...more
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
So far, these Walter Mosley novels aren’t detective stories; they are crime and suspense stories. They are as brutal as Spillane, but Mosley’s black protagonist has criminals of all kinds and the white establishment of the time to battle. That means he cannot have a friend on the police force of the time and place; most of them hate him because he is black. His friends are black people, yet they live in a dangerous world where they have to protect themselves, sometimes from each, but almost alwa ...more
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
Excellent mystery and great historical fiction. Even though the book is grittier than I usually care for, it didn't bother me in this one the way it so often does. Maybe it is because though Easy isn't exactly a law-abiding citizen all the time, he does have a conscience and doesn't go out of his way to look for trouble, the way so many of the criminal 'protagonists' in noir novels seem to do.

I found the parts about Craxton looking for dirt on Jewish labor organizer (and concentration camp survi
Boris Slocum
A great follow-up to "Devil in a Blue Dress." The author sketches a keen, edgy, threadbare world whose central character is jaded but with a deep conscience. Side characters are complex and entertaining. The story of corruption and espionage just jumps out at you. It's a great deal of fun, but it has something important to say about the world. I highly recommend. ...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
Rob Kitchin
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Red Death is the second book in the Easy Rawlins series set in post-war Los Angeles. Easy has a habit of finding trouble and acting detective. In this outing he’s infiltrating a communist cell for the FBI in order to avoid a federal charge for tax evasion. When people connected to both his IRS charge and his FBI case start dying, it seems he’s swapped going to jail for non-payment of tax to going for murder. To add to his woes his personal life is a mess, starting an affair with EttaMae, the l ...more
Apr 25, 2014 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
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Satisfying Easy Rawlins followup to his debut. Five years after the events in 'Devil In A Blue Dress,' you find Ezekiel 'Easy' Rawlins living a quiet life, keeping up his beloved house and having become a landlord to several properties acquired due to his financial gain from 1948. HIs world in Los Angeles is changing slightly with the McCarthy committee years.

First, Easy is hit by the IRS, then by the FBI. He's between a rock and a hard place, but if he does what the FBI is asking then he will b
Jul 01, 2012 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
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
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
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This second in the Easy Rawlins series by Walter Mosley is every bit as complicated and dangerous as Devil in the Blue Dress. Easy still has his nice little house in Watts, and now, thanks to the stolen money from the first case, he also has a couple of nice apartment buildings that nobody quite knows he owns since he pretends to be the janitor. Except, of course, that the IRS has gotten wise to him and decided to investigate. That's bad enough but things get even worse when the FBI shows up. Th ...more
DeAnna Knippling
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
A man who solves problems is called in by the FBI to help them bring down a Communist, when the last thing he wants to do is hurt the man.

Easy Rawlins is a good read, but a very boy one. You're not going to find women doing anything other than be mothers, wives, lays, and (in one case) a witch; the main character never interacts with them other than in their roles as parents or sexual partners. I mention this because of a certain plot twist where it looks like a woman might not be someone's love
Erin L
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pi, on-my-shelf
It's always interesting reading literature about other cultures - in this case African Americans. It makes me question the belief that we're not that different. And I truly believe that cultures should be recognized and maintained, rather than merged into a great mass of humanity with no differences.

That said, this book is interesting. I can't call it a fun read as it is gritty and darker than most of the mysteries I read. I do enjoy this series and I'll be continuing to read it as well as expan
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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

Other books in the series

Easy Rawlins (1 - 10 of 15 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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