Fear of the Dark
In the 1950's, the Watts neighborhood in Los Angeles is the black neighborhood. Paris Minton is a used bookstore owner in the heart of the neighborhood. He is happy being able to read and to sell enough to support his physical needs and his reading habit. He admits he is the most cowardly man he knows. Fortunately, Fearless Jones is his good friend. Fearless is one of the most feared men in Watts.
One day Paris has just closed up shop when his cousin Ulysses "Useless" shows up at his door. When Useless shows up, Paris knows trouble is right behind. He sends Useless away. He later meets a white woman whose boyfriend shows up in his shop to kill him. Paris runs. When he returns to the shop later with Fearless, the man is laying dead on the floor of his bookstore. He knows that no white policeman or jury would believe that he hadn't killed the man. He and Fearless get rid of the body.
Useless disappears. His mother, Three Hearts Grant, comes from Louisiana to find her boy and that "no good tramp" he had taken up with. Rather than causing Three Hearts' wrath, Paris starts looking for Useless and his girlfriend, Angel. Before he and Fearless are done they discover blackmail, more bodies, important white businessmen, and kidnapped women. They also protect their friend Milo from a bond jumping murderer.
Once again Walter Mosley pulled me into the black world of 1950's Los Angeles. Paris often speaks matter-of-factly about how things are - racism abounds even though not officially recognized. In Fear of the Dark Mosley pulls together threads that don't relate in the beginning but by the end form the whole picture. The characters are well defined. I can picture the down-on-her-luck Jessa, the witch-like protective mother Three Hearts, and the conflicting morals of Fearless.
The mystery is fast paced. The twists don't appear to lead anywhere but again tie together by the end. My major complaint about the book is the final antagonist. The character was almost pulled out of left field. Although the person had entered the book earlier, the reference was brief in contrast with most of the others involved. I know that's how crime often works in real life, but in a novel like Fear of the Dark you expect more.
Notice: Non-graphic violence; Strong indecent language; Suggestive dialogue or situations
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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