Review

Bad Boy Brawly Brown: An Easy Rawlins Novel

by Walter Mosley



Walter Mosley is definitely his own man. He could probably make
great bushels-full of money by giving his adoring (and expanding)
public an Easy Rawlins book every year, like clockwork. It's not
happening. He meanders off into other areas, even occasionally
dabbling close to the science-fiction genre, but always --- always
--- providing first-rate genre fiction for those who take the time
to hunt it down. The relative rarity of the issuance of his Easy
Rawlins novels makes BAD BOY BRAWLY BROWN all the more
welcome.

BAD BOY BRAWLY BROWN is the first Rawlins novel in six years, and
the seventh in the series; Mosley continues to move Rawlins forward
in real, if historical, time. The setting is Los Angeles in the
early 1960s, and the Civil Rights movement provides an uneasy
backdrop for the story, as Rawlins becomes caught up in the
machinations of a black pride group that is sandwiched between a
hostile police department and a group of subversives who are
seeking to hijack the group for their own nefarious ends. Rawlins
has found stability in his life, proud of his position as a high
school custodial supervisor and the foundation it is providing for
his two children and the love of his life. He has left his problem
solving days behind, but those days continue to find him. When
Rawlins's lifelong friend John approaches him for help, Rawlins, in
spite of himself, cannot refuse.

John's stepson, Brawly Brown --- a well meaning giant of a young
man --- has left home and gotten involved with The Urban
Revolutionary Party, whose professed aim is to make life better for
the citizens of Los Angeles. John, at a loss, asks Rawlins to help
find Brawly and to try to persuade him to come home. Rawlins,
attempting to obtain a lead on Brawly's whereabouts, almost
immediately finds himself embroiled in death and violence, with
everyone from the police to Party members attempting to use him for
their own purposes. Rawlins, in the meantime, tries to maintain a
balancing act between fulfilling a promise to an old friend while
maintaining steady employment and being a father to his children.
It's a juggling act that, quite realistically, he isn't always able
to completely perform as he attempts to compartmentalize the
various elements of his life. And while Rawlins fulfills his
promise to his friend, the denouement is hardly a tidy one.
Endings, in that place, and that time, rarely were.

Mosley, as he has done so well with his previous Rawlins books,
utilizes Rawlins as a metaphorical Everyman in the City of Los
Angeles during a period of historical, roiling turbulence. Mosley
does so with an even, balanced hand; not all the villains are
white, nor are all of the heroes black. Those seeking a jaundiced,
politically correct account of those times will have to go
elsewhere. And Mosley's portrayal of Rawlins, as he tries and by
turns succeeds and fails at walking the path of righteousness, is
all the stronger for it.

Mosley has received a great deal of recognition for his work of
late but he still has not, ultimately, quite received what he is
due. The publication of BAD BOY BRAWLY BROWN will undoubtedly spark
renewed interest in Rawlins and in Mosley. And if such interest
moves Mosley to revisit Rawlins more frequently in the future, all
the better.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 21, 2011

Bad Boy Brawly Brown: An Easy Rawlins Novel
by Walter Mosley

  • Publication Date: November 30, -0001
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 0446612316
  • ISBN-13: 9780446612319