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White Butterfly (Easy Rawlins Mysteries) [Paperback]

4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 Oct 2002 Easy Rawlins Mysteries
The police don't show up on Easy Rawlins's doorstep until the third girl dies. It's Los Angeles, 1956, and it takes more than one murdered black girl before the cops get interested. Now they need Easy. As he says: "I was worth a precinct full of detectives when the cops needed the word in the ghetto." But Easy turns them down. He's married now, a father -- and his detective days are over. Then a white college coed dies the same brutal death, and the cops put the heat on Easy: If he doesn't help, his best friend is headed for jail. So Easy's back, walking the midnight streets of Watts and the darker, twisted avenues of a cunning killer's mind....

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (15 Oct 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743451775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743451772
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.5 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,553,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"San Francisco Chronicle" Wonderful page-turning excitement....Like Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, and others, Mosley has been reconstructing the hard-boiled tradition from the bottom up....Easy Rawlins moves through mean streets even Marlowe wouldn't walk.

About the Author

Walter Mosley is the author of the acclaimed Easy Rawlins series of mysteries, and the novels "Blue Light, RL's Dream, Futureland" and "Fearless Jones, " as well as two collections of stories featuring Socrates Fortlow - "Walkin' the Dog" and "Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned" for which he received the Anisfield-Wold award. He was born in Los Angeles and lives in New York. Read by Paul Winfield --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Continuation of the Series 23 Oct 2004
The third Easy Rawlins book catches up with the proud black hero in 1956. Fairly prosperous due to his hidden real estate holdings, he's got a pretty young wife and a beautiful baby daughter added to his Los Angeles household. The tension between his shady "street" past and his attempts to domesticate himself is a running theme, as Easy struggles with what it means to be in a trusting and open relationship. One morning the police come knocking, and ask for his help regarding a series of murders. Several black "good time girls" have been killed in recent weeks, but now a white woman is dead too. The police like to use Easy as a kind of unregistered undercover agent in the black community (although given the number of times they troop in and out of his house, you would think people might start to wonder about him). There's the standard stuff about racism that one has come to expect from the series (the police never cared about the murders until a white girl was involved), which doesn't make it less true, just a little less powerful. This time, there's even a black police officer involved in the case--although by the end, he admits to Easy that the notion of working to change the system from within is a lost cause (perhaps a statement of Mosley's own sentiment on American society?). As always, the police aren't really asking for Easy's help, so much as telling him he'd better help.
The investigation leads him back into the street life he's been trying to avoid, and inevitably, there's a bit of a fall that pushes him and his wife further apart. He's not a good communicator, and his binge drinking only causes more problems. Indeed, he drinks so much in this book that it's hard to imagine him actually being able to carry out the investigation as well as he does.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mosley's Finest Hour 12 Jan 2003
By A Customer
Though Devil in a Blue Dress and A Red Death are great reads which stand apart from other books in the genre, White Butterfly might be the best Easy Rawlins story. Like Ross Macdonald, Walter Mosley weaves a tapestry of pain and heartache and human frailty into White Butterfly. Along the way we get to revisit the friendship of Mouse and Easy and again we learn that there are degrees of right and wrong.
It is only the killing of a white girl which prompts the police to ask for Easy's help. There was no hurry when only black girls were getting murdered in the Los Angeles of 1956. It is the last thing Easy wants as he has a woman named Regina and a child in his life now. Yet he can not give all of himself to them and holds back from telling Regina about his life and his property and where he gets his money.
Mosley has tightly written a character who though good also is flawed and wrestles with his own life and motives as much as he does with the cops and bad guys. We understand why Easy is more comfortable with the amoral Mouse than with the rest of society. You do not have to be black to appreciate the complex moral landscape Mosley paints of Easy's world. You feel Easy's personal loss at the end of this book and it stays with you longer than the mystery.
If Ross Macdonald wrote like a slumming angel then Mosley writes like an angel of the slums. He doesn't try to make us understand Easy's world, only lets us ride along with Easy as he attempts to make sense of it all himself. In the struggle we learn about pain and sorrow and regret, which is to say we learn about life. Reading this book will make you want more of Easy and more of Walter Mosley.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff 7 Jun 2012
Easy Rawlins is called in to assist the police after some prostitutes are murdered. A pattern is broken when the fourth woman, who is white, is killed. His relationship with the police is tense, at best, and he also has to deal with his wife running off.

Easy is an interesting and likable character, although gruff, and he is often at the edges of the law with his activities.

There is not a bad mystery within but it is not outstanding. The reader's pleasure derives more from the colour Mosley injects into the narrative and by travelling with Easy during the many challenges he faces. Mosley does particularly well in painting a picture of life for black people in the fifties.

This is not a fantastic murder mystery, despite a twist or two, but it is a very engaging read and one without nonsense and boring moments.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply ethical. 3 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What makes Mosley's books so special is the humanism embedded in them. Even in gruesome times and situations. These books should be read in ethics classes.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  33 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mystery novel as work of art 17 Mar 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This is a wonderfully crafted novel that takes Easy Rawlins into uncharted emotional waters. I give it four stars instead of five only because I felt the resolution to the mystery aspect of the story was a little too pat. However, the moving and unexpected emotional crisis faced by Easy near the end was truly heartbreaking. As with all the Easy Rawlins books, author Walter Mosley has taken the tried-and-true mystery genre and turned it into a commentary on race and class. Taken together, these books constitute an American masterpiece, and White Butterfly is one of the best.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction... 21 Aug 2000
By Erik J. Larsen - Published on Amazon.com
This was my first Mosley/Easy Rawlins mystery and I enjoyed it immensely. It had depth of character and interesting plot twists and turns. I also liked the fact that it was a story about African Americans in 1956 Los Angeles and it didn't rely on the 'N' word for shock value (unlike Ellroy and a few others). I think it was a great introduction to the series.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong Plot Strong Characters 12 Sep 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
... Mosley gives us a male character who isn't afraid to cry and when he gets angry he doesn't get violent but does get even. The mystery surrounding the death of the white stripper is cleverly written into the plot and when the clues reveal the killer they all make sense. This series improves with each novel and Easy is turning into a complex person who has demons of his own to battle.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He keeps going... and going... and going.... 11 Feb 2009
By Jason Frost - Published on Amazon.com
Earlier this year I mentioned that this year will be my "year of Michael Crichton"... now I might change that to my "year of Walter Mosley". Damn this book was good! I'm of those readers who don't have to read a "series" in order to enjoy it. I love reading about one of my favorite literary characters (Easy) and his extremely colorful life. I love reading how diverse circumstances helped formed him into the man he is. I started reading the Easy Rawlins "series" about five years (or so) and I started when his relationship with Bonita has been going on for a while and Jesus wasn't mute. THAT one threw me, but like I said, I didn't read this "series" in order.

White Butterfly is a classic Easy Rawlins novel with that perfect Walter Mosley touch all over the place. To call Easy a ghetto Renaissance man would not be a stretch. He seems to know everyone, everyone seems to know him, knows the right questions to ask, has best friends that would frighten Hitler, and has a soul that is as real as heat on a sidewalk. I think that is why I love reading about Easy so much. His soul. There isn't anything extraordinary about him really until you start to understand him. He's an ordinary man with a... original soul. In another time Easy might have led crowds in Birmingham. In another time Easy might have taught Plato. In another time Easy might have written a play for Shakespeare. In another time Easy might have written a prologue for W.E.B. Dubois. But in this time, in this place, in this book he's just a man. A man trying to find the killer or killers of young women.

Unfortunately, then like today, nobody cares if a Black woman is killed but the moment a white lady meets her maker all hell breaks loose. Easy is pretty much forced to take on this case to find out who is raping, brutalizing, and killing young women around L.A. The corrupt L.A.P.D. blackmails Easy to help them and then "fails" to give him the important information. In classic, unique Easy fashion he finds out what he needs to know and finds out a number of things he DOESN'T want to know. Intertwined within this story is also a story about family, a man's broken heart, a man's black soul, corrupt government looking out for us, how a woman sees her man, how this man's family sees him, and the continual test of a tested friendship.

What's the quote: "the more things change, the more they stay the same". That adage could not be truer within the pages of this novel. You'll shake your head over the dimwits in the L.A.P.D. and the practices they still use to this day even though they don't work. You'll recognize the struggle of a Black man and his family in the streets of L.A., you'll see that the need to survive back then is the same and the WAY you survive is just the same. Walter Mosley is a true living legend and his work is absolutely mesmerizing.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best 6 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
My first Mosley and still my favorite, though I have enjoyed every single one - through Walkin The Dog, Gone Fishin and the Socrates stories. It's interesting how Devil In A Blue Dress and Always Outnumbered translated beautifully into movie/TV presentations. Perfect actors, perfect ambiance. Mr. Mosley must be gratified. I'm always on the lookout for more Easy Rawlins...and Mouse.
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