Easy Rawlins is hired to find a woman named Elizabeth ostensibly because her rich employer is looking for her. The woman has been working in the house for this rich woman and the story goes that she is looking for Elizabeth in order to offer to pay her more if she comes back to work. This story of course is fishy. Also fishy is the fact that Rawlins is being approached by not even a third party so much as a fourth or fifth party to the whole deal. He rightfully suspects some kind grift or setup. Also of interest to him is that Elizabeth is known to him from his youth as “Black Betty” or “Betty” as a kind of neighborhood sexpot. He has a giant crush on her when he was a teenager and to some degree, she was flattered by his affection and egged him on a little. Now that he’s in his 40s, he’s also curious about what exactly has happened to her on that accord as well. So he takes the case, fully knowing that there’s something very much not right about the whole deal. And as you can imagine, he’s right.
The feels like the first real novel from this series that settles back on itself a little and starts fishing around for stories to tell by mining Rawlins’s past. It’s an invented past, and it’s an old trick for detective novels, to “bring back” something that is otherwise long gone for the detective. It mostly works here, except for the fact that Rawlins’s own personal life is a present and interesting part of this series.
A Little Yellow Dog
A few years after the last book and Easy is approached by a woman and asked to watch her dog (every detective series has to have one at least one book where a dog or some other animal is handed over) and then immediately he regrets is. Easy is working for a school as a kind of custodian (he likes having those fake legitimate job), and one of the workers at the school ends up dead and Easy needs to figure out what’s going on. He’s approached by his boss to find things out, so he begins to look into it. It concerns a possible drug smuggling ring and is linked to the school and the dog of course.
The mystery here is not all that compelling and the dog isn’t a charm factory either (although Easy’s daughter falls in love with it) but the book is good because it involves that constant tension Easy has about trying to get out and whether or not he’ll be allowed to. His old friend Mouse faces the same dilemma here to as he becomes embroiled in the whole mess as well. Easy is hardly a big criminal or anything but his money was gotten honestly in the first book and his two kids are unofficially adopted and so he has to be careful about everything.