By Walter Mosley
c. 2013, Doubleday
For awhile there, you thought you were gonna die.
Your head hurt. Your body ached, and your stomach was acting like a fresh-caught fish but that didn’t matter much. Bills still needed paying and business needed attending. There was family to care for, work to do.
Yes, you should’ve stayed horizontal but you came back from the dead and so did Easy Rawlins. In the new novel “Little Green” by Walter Mosley, Easy’s recent demise never gave him but a moments’ rest.
His vision was blurred. His thoughts, more so.
Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins was having strange dreams of death, but that was no surprise: Some two months before, after losing the woman he loved, he got drunk and lost control of his car, landing in brush as the vehicle went into the California ocean.
He wasn’t dead but he should’ve been and that was the only thing that made sense. He hurt all over and his head was muddled, but immediately after Easy came out of his semi-coma, his friend Mouse asked for a favor.
Nineteen-year-old Evander Noon was missing, and his mother wanted him home. Mouse wanted the boy home, too, but he wouldn’t give Easy a reason. He wouldn’t say why he called Evander “Little Green,” either.
Evander Noon wasn’t hard to find; in fact, Easy had to rescue him from a group of drug dealers who beat the boy while asking where the money was. Once free, Evander couldn’t recall much he’d been on acid-tripping for five days but when his mind got loose, he remembered plenty about that money: there was lots of it, stuffed in a blood-soaked bag.
But how did a wet-behind-the-ears teenager end up with over $200,000 of bloody cash without knowing where it came from? And how did Easy’s friend, Jackson Blue, end up in a similarly odd (but expensive) bit of trouble? Driving a borrowed red Barracuda, hopped up on Mama Jo’s Gator Blood, feeling like a young bull, Easy Rawlins would find out or die trying.
That noise you hear? That’s a sigh of relief from legions of formerly-concerned fans, afraid they’d never read a new Easy Rawlins mystery again. Fortunately, author Walter Mosley dashed their needless worries against the California surf.
Set in 1967, “Little Green” is classic Easy, with underworld violence, sophisticated crime, and men who efficiently take care of business all with a noir feel, like a Black Sam Spade. This is the kind of book where men wear fedoras and speak quiet philosophy, where women don’t yet realize their own strength, where Civil Rights are still brand-new, and black folks are rarely friends with white ones. Yep, I loved it.
Because it’s been six years since the last Easy Rawlins novel, I recommend that fans brush up some on his story; you’ll get up to speed quick enough. If you’re new to the series, grab the last couple novels and you’ll be fine. Either way, no matter how you seize it, “Little Green” is a book to die for.
“The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs”
By Nick Trout
c. 2013, Hyperion
The package was wrapped so nicely.
The paper was festive, the colors zesty with frou-frou ribbon and a shiny bow on top. Surely, if it was possible for someone to make a career out of wrapping gifts, it was such a person who wrapped this one.
Too bad it was a gift you never wanted.
Yes, we’ve all had them: Odd presents, awkward presents, thought-that-counts things. And in the new book “The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs” by Nick Trout, this unwanted gift was a big one
If his life hadn’t fallen apart back in South Carolina , veterinary pathologist Dr. Cyrus Mills would never have returned to Eden Falls, Vermont.
There was nothing in Vermont for him anymore, really. His mother was dead. His father had only recently taken his last breath, although Bill Cobb had been dead to Cyrus for 15 years. And with no family there and only bad memories, Cyrus couldn’t see any reason to return.
But there was no reason to stay in Charleston , either: Cyrus’ medical license had been recently suspended in a not-quite-resolved scandal and he was near-penniless. So when he learned that he’d inherited his father’s veterinary practice, Cyrus knew where he could get the money to clear his name.
But he was wrong.
The Bedside Manor for Sick Animals was very sick itself. As hard-hearted as Cobb was to his son, he was a beloved doctor but a poor bill-collector, and a softie for his patients and their owners. Many Eden Falls residents owed Bedside Manor money. Vendors had cancelled contracts. Equipment was outdated and supplies were low. The clinic needed emergency treatment.
All Cyrus wanted was to sell it off, but he learned that it wouldn’t be easy, especially since many people, including the clinic’s few employees, relied on Bedside Manor in many ways. He hated what the business represented an absent, distant, uncaring father but he wasn’t just going to give it away.
He’d have to muddle through as long as someone didn’t give away his secret
So you say you’re in the mood for something light, maybe a little romantic with a pinch of mystery. You want fiction, but some authenticity would be welcome. And that’s why you want “The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs.”
It’s no accident that realism lies in the pages of this debut novel: Author Nick Trout is also a veterinarian, so the knowledge of his esoteric-fact-loving main character is legitimate as well as entertaining. I loved the geekiness of Trout’s Cyrus Mills, in fact, and I loved the Bedford-Falls-like neighbors and clients he had which is not to diminish the roles of the various pets, all equal cast members in this sweetly gentle book.
This is the kind of novel you can hand to your grandmother, loan to your teen, share with your friends, and recommend to your book group. It’s Cute with a capital “C,” and you should read it. For anyone who loves a pet and a good novel, “The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs” is the total package.
The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. She has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. Terri lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 11,000 books.