Fearless Jones and Paris Minton are back doing another off-the-books investigation that takes them down the dark alleys of 1956 Los Angeles. The city, especially the areas where Fearless and Paris live, is violent and filled with civil unrest.
I discovered Walter Mosley through his first Easy Rawlins novel, Devil In A Blue Dress, which was a lucky occurrence. The Rawlins series tends to be chronologically driven. The first novel is set in the late 1940s and is currently in the early 1960s. A lot has happened in Easy’s life during those years.
A few years ago, Mosley wanted to take a break from his popular series character and took a chance to create a different kind of hero to Easy. Paris Minton and Fearless Jones come across as two halves of a whole. Fearless is a decorated World War II veteran in his mid-30s. He lives up to his name, totally without fear and good at heart. Paris is the true brains of the outfit, the part that is inventive, deceitful, and selfish — to a degree. Without Paris, Fearless would probably never get to the bottom of one of their investigations, but without Fearless Paris would never survive.
Fearless exists by doing tough-guy favors for people. Body-guarding and bounty-hunting are two of his primary pursuits, but always within the black community of 1956 Los Angeles. Paris runs a book store that he loves because it gives him the chance to read all the time. They’ve appeared in two previous novels, Fearless Jones and Fear Itself. In all of their “cases” they pursue what start out as small crimes that play out big before the adventures are over.
In this book, Paris is haunted by family. His cousin Useless (Ulysses S. Grant IV) shows up at an inopportune moment and things go downhill quickly from there. Not long after Paris turns Useless from his door, Paris gets interrupted by his current girlfriend's current boyfriend. Paris flees for his life (his first rule of operation) and looks up Fearless for backup. But by the time they return to Paris's bookshop, there's a dead man lying there.