One of my all-time favorite movies is Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye. Featuring Elliot Gould in a great star turn as Phillip Marlowe who is deposited in the 1970s as a fish-out-of-water cynical private eye, Altman does a fantastic job of contrasting the post-war male angst of the 50s with the post-60s hypershift in American culture. And oh yeah, there’s a mystery to solve.
Chronologically, there’s no gap between Little Green and Cinnamon Kiss, Mosley’s previous Easy Rawlins book. The former picks up a few months after where the latter left off, with Easy recovering from a car crash (the means of which I won’t spoil if you have yet to read Cinammon Kiss). But in terms of publication, they’re worlds apart. Little Green was published six years after its prequel and I have to imagine Mosley was deliberating in that time whether or not he wanted to continue the series.
I’m glad he chose to continue it because this is definitely one of the best books in the series and it functions as a soft reboot. Easy’s recovery only happens in a matter of months but the Rip Van Winkle effect that Altman uses in his movie functions here. 1969 Los Angeles is a far different cry from its postwar setting in Devil in a Blue Dress, where we first meet Easy. Even as Mosley has brought him along in America’s timeline, up to the Watts riots of 1964 and beyond, I continue to think of Easy existing in the same time span as Phillip Marlowe.
But Easy has always been a survivor so it makes sense that Mosley would want to take him in this direction if he wanted to continue to tell these stories. Although Easy is only in his late-40s, it feels like he’s lived a lifetime between combat in the second World War and surviving the streets of Los Angeles, which are basically run apartheid-style by white supremacy. So while it took a few pages to get into the changes, I ultimately dug what Mosley was doing.
I realize I’ve said little about the mystery itself but it is a good one. Because Mosley wants to acclimate Easy to the change in times, he’s able to streamline a simple story that’s less convoluted than some of his other plots. It makes it easy (heh) for the reader to get into. I liked this one a lot; it breathed new life into a series that was showing its tread and now I’m excited to continue.