Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Pierce’s Picks: “Rose Gold”

A weekly alert for followers of crime, mystery, and thriller fiction.

Rose Gold, by Walter Mosley (Doubleday)

The Gist: L.A. sleuth Easy Rawlins “has his hands full in this story, set not too long after the first Watts riots in 1965, that turbulent period of Vietnam veterans and protesters, free love, black militarism, and hippies …,” explains the blog Read Me Deadly. “For a change, the Los Angeles police acknowledge needing Easy’s help, and are prepared to pay for it. Roger Frisk, Special Assistant to the Chief of Police, approaches Easy, who is in the midst of moving house, and asks him to find Rosemary Goldsmith, daughter of a millionaire arms dealer. Rosemary has disappeared from her college dorm room, likely in the company of a militant young black boxer named Bob Mantle, who is calling himself Uhuru Nolicé. Mantle is wanted for the shooting of three police officers during the course of a robbery. Whether Rosemary went with him willingly or was kidnapped is a matter of conjecture. Frisk wants Easy to find Mantle and recover the girl if possible, but under no circumstances to contact her family.” Adds Kirkus Reviews: “Easy is quickly up to his neck in other LAPD officers, FBI agents and State Department officials, united only in their demand that he drop the case on security grounds. In the course of his investigations, Easy incurs numerous debts that he can pay off only by working other jobs. His trusted police contact, Detective Melvin Suggs, wants Easy to find Mary Donovan, who passed counterfeit money and stole Suggs’ heart. His ex-lover EttaMae Alexander’s white friend Alana Altman wants Easy to find her boy Alton, who she suspects may have been kidnapped by her late husband’s African-American relatives. Local crime lord Art Sugar suggests that Easy pass everything he learns about Bob Mantle on to him first.”

What Else You Should Know: “After 20 years as a private investigator,” writes author Ivy Pochoda in the Los Angeles Times, “Rawlins is uniquely able to navigate the city’s evolving landscape. He understands the shifting ethnic makeup of its neighborhoods, from East Los Angeles to Watts to the Hollywood Hills, as well as the codes of conduct that operate in each of them--no simple feat. Mosley’s novels don’t simply take place in the city or in just one section of the city; they are the city and its residents revealed through plot, dialogue and dialect, landscape and streetscape and countless vivid details of dress and demeanor.” Read Me Deadly points out that “The story [in Rose Gold] is loosely based on the Patty Hearst case of the same era. Patty, a daughter of publishing mogul Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, a self-styled left-wing revolutionary group, which she later joined. She was convicted of bank robbery and served time in prison, but is still thought by many to have been a victim of Stockholm Syndrome, in which the kidnapped bond closely with their captors. … For those of us who remember those times, Rose Gold is tightly-woven, bittersweet reminder of a turbulent and exhilarating era.”

1 comment:

Clinton Greaves said...

Three-fourths of the way through this and, as always with Mosley, enjoying it immensely.