Easy Rawlins, who once spanned years between volumes, takes his third case of 1967. Or rather, his third batch of cases.
What are the odds that the LAPD would not only press Easy (Little Green, 2013, etc.) to take a job, but offer to pay him for it? But that’s exactly what Roger Frisk, special assistant to the chief of police, does. If Easy will look for international weapons manufacturer Foster Goldsmith’s daughter, Rosemary, who’s gone missing from UC Santa Barbara, Frisk will pay him $6,000, with a bonus of $2,500 if he actually finds her. Smelling a rat but agreeing to take the case, Easy soon realizes the police are much less interested in Rosemary than in retired boxer Battling Bob Mantle, the companion who may have kidnapped her. Easy is quickly up to his neck in other LAPD officers, FBI agents and State Department officials, united only in their demand that he drop the case on security grounds. In the course of his investigations, Easy incurs numerous debts that he can pay off only by working other jobs. His trusted police contact, Detective Melvin Suggs, wants Easy to find Mary Donovan, who passed counterfeit money and stole Suggs’ heart. His ex-lover EttaMae Alexander’s white friend Alana Altman wants Easy to find her boy Alton, who she suspects may have been kidnapped by her late husband’s African-American relatives. Local crime lord Art Sugar suggests that Easy pass everything he learns about Bob Mantle on to him first. You have to feel bad for underemployed UCLA MBA Percy Bidwell, who insists that Easy introduce him to investment banker Jason Middleton but doesn’t have anything to trade for the favor.
Along the way to the untidy resolution, the most quotable of all contemporary detectives (“I knew I was in trouble because I was being told a fairy tale by a cop”) stirs up enough trouble for scene after memorable scene. Mosley may not write great endings, but it’s hard to top his middles.