"It is the Summer of Love as Cinnamon Kiss opens, and Easy Rawlins is deep in a conversation with his lifelong friend Mouse about robbing an armored car. It's a cinch, Mouse says. This would be further outside the law than Easy has ever traveled - but his daughter Feather urgently needs a medical treatment that costs far more than Easy can earn or borrow in time.". "Then another friend offers a job that just might solve Easy's problem without the risk of jail time. He has to travel to San Francisco to investigate the disappearance of an eccentric, prominent attorney and his assistant of sorts, the beautiful Cinnamon Cargill. Easy can see there is much more to this story than he is told - Robert Lee, his new employer, is as shadowy and suspect as the man Easy is seeking. And the woman who fronts for Lee is as alluring and dangerous as they come. But Easy's need overcomes all concerns. Far away from his usual network of contacts and support, he plunges into unfamiliar territory, from the newfound hippie enclaves of San Francisco to a violent and vicious plot that stretches back to the battlefields of Europe."--BOOK JACKET.
Maybe it's, sadly, really not all that different now. I was particularly struck by this scene in which Easy and a companion are approached by two cops at a phone booth (no cell phones then):
"I couldn't help but think about the Cold War going on inside the borders of the United States. The police were on one side and Raymond and his breed were on the other.
"I came out of the phone booth with my hands in clear sight.
"My job was to make these cops feel that Raymond and I had a legitimate reason to be there at that phone booth on that street corner. Most Americans wouldn't understand why two well-dressed men would have to explain why they were standing on a public street."
Mosley is one of the best noir writers out there, and the Easy Rawlins series exemplifies his skill; Rawlins' wry narration deftly captures the racial tensions of 60s LA. Yet every so often, I end up infuriated with Rawlins, and unfortunately, this is one of those books. My issue comes down to Easy's personality: he is astute in his analysis of the world and the circumstances he lives in, but in my opinion, he is almost entirely lacking in self-insight. He tends to rush to judgment, but he rarely evaluates whether his decisions or his opinions were justified. This makes him a rounded, real, character, but it's a trait I have issues with, and one reason I may prefer LT (first book:The Long Fall) to Easy. This book, with its focus on Easy's relationship with his girlfriend Bonnie, highlights this defect. hover for spoiler.
If you're hooked on the Rawlins series and don't mind the certain areas where he lacks introspection, I think this is an interesting addition to the series. For other readers, it may not be the best example of Mosley's talents, as it lacks the driving and coherent plot that characterizes other books in the series. It also lacks much of the little domestic moments that I tend to love about these books. However, if you're a fan of Mouse, he's a major player in this story, and Jackson Blue also makes an appearance. Mosley, as always, does a wonderful job in capturing the atmosphere of the city and its time period. One of my favorite moments in the books is Easy's bewildered interactions with hippies... that by itself made the book a worthwhile read.