by Bruce TierneyNovember, 2005
Mystery of the month
Were I to compile a list of Tip of the Ice Pick winners, T. Jefferson Parker, Michael Connelly and Tony Hillerman would all be somewhere near the top. Still, I suspect that the numero uno spot would be occupied by Walter Mosley, so it is perhaps a foregone conclusion that his latest, Cinnamon Kiss, the 10th installment in the acclaimed Easy Rawlins series, captures this month's award. It is 1967, the Summer of Love. Now well into his 40s, Easy has reined in some of the impulsiveness that characterized his early years. When his daughter, Feather, contracts a rare blood disease, Easy must shelve his newfound morality in order to raise the $35,000 needed for her treatment. His devil-may-care sidekick, Raymond "Mouse" Alexander, has a line on an armored car heist that should provide the needed funds, but Easy opts for a missing persons job instead. The armored car job might have been the better option: one of the missing persons turns up quite dead, and the other is on the run to avoid a similar fate. Easy tracks his quarry to San Francisco and ends up smack in the middle of the psychedelic revolution. Juxtaposing history with personal story is a device used often and well by Mosley; last year's Little Scarlet was set against the backdrop of the Watts riots. The issue (the tragedy, really) of racism bubbles just beneath the surface of all the Easy Rawlins novels, giving his legions of white readers insight into black culture that may well be missing from their lives otherwise.