Paris Minton owns a bookstore in Watts, Los Angeles, in the mid 1950's. It's not much, but he likes it and he can read on the job. Unfortunately for him, Elana Love comes into his store looking for the closed church that was down the street. She goes through the back and a mean, big man comes in the front. He is looking for Elana. When Paris can't bring her out, the man beats Paris up. After he's gone Elana comes out of hiding. Elana is beautiful and Paris can't help himself - he has to help the "damsel in distress". He offers to drive her home. They end up at a hotel near the ocean instead. She tells a tale about a bond worth $10,000, her ex-boyfriend, and an old Jewish accountant who was in jail for embezelment. The next morning Elana, his money, his gun, and his car are gone. He returns to his bookstore to find that it was burnt down.
Paris turns to his own friend, Fearless Jones. He and Fearless track down the Jewish accountant. Just in time to save the man's life. Two black men had come to their home and almost killed Sol Tannebaum trying to find the bond. Fanny Tannebaum, Sol's wife, gets Paris and Fearless out of jail when they are arrested for the crime. From there the story really starts twisting and turning.
This novel is a good read on different levels. First there is the mystery itself - or should I say mysteries? Paris tells his tale (first person narrative) with hints as to what comes next. Even so, it's surprising when it does or the reason behind the action is surprising - it just depends on which section you're reading at the time.At one point Paris foretells that he'll be in jail. I certainly never imagined the charges that were levied against him although he and Fearless had commited more than a few crimes along the way.
Fearless Jones gives a vivid story of black Los Angeles in the 1950's. Paris kept a document in his store to prove the books were his to sell. He was used to white policemen coming in and questioning him suspiciously as to where he procured his stock. When Fearless and he visit the Tannebaum's neighborhood, they know that just being seen in the neighborhood could get them taken to the police station. When they were arrested for Sol Tannebaum's near murder they were both beaten in different questioning rooms to get them to talk.
Mosely also delves into the aftermath of World War II. Fearless had been on the front in Europe. The Tannebaums had escaped Europe during the war. So had their niece, Gella Greenspan, who tells of the way their family wealth was stolen from them by a traitor Jewish man.It is still less than ten years after the war, so it has a big impact on who these people are now.
This multilayered book is a good read.
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.
Book Rating System