Devil in a Blue Dress (Easy Rawlins Series #1)

Devil in a Blue Dress (Easy Rawlins Series #1)

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Devil in a Blue Dress, a defining novel in Walter Mosley’s bestselling Easy Rawlins mystery series, was adapted into a TriStar Pictures film starring Denzel Washington as Easy Rawlins and Don Cheadle as Mouse.

Set in the late 1940s, in the African-American community of Watts, Los Angeles, Devil in a Blue Dress follows Easy Rawlins, a black war veteran just fired from his job at a defense plant. Easy is drinking in a friend's bar, wondering how he'll meet his mortgage, when a white man in a linen suit walks in, offering good money if Easy will simply locate Miss Daphne Monet, a blonde beauty known to frequent black jazz clubs.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781480589858
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication date: 05/27/2014
Series: Easy Rawlins Series , #1
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 816,367
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Walter Mosley is the New York Times bestselling author of five Easy Rawlins mysteries: Devil in A Blue Dress, A Red Death, White Butterfly, Black Betty, and A Little Yellow Dog; three non-mystery novels, Blue Light, Gone Fishin', and R. L.'s Dream; two collections of stories featuring Socrates Fortlow, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, for which he received the Anisfield Wolf Award, and which was an HBO movie; and a nonfiction book, Workin' On The Chain Gang. Mosley is also the author of the Leonid McGill, and Fearless Jones mystery series, The Tempest Tales and Six Easy Pieces. He is a former president of the Mystery Writers of America, a founder of the PEN American Center Open Book Committee, and is on the board of directors of the National Book Awards. A native of Los Angeles, he now lives in New York City.


New York, New York

Date of Birth:

January 12, 1952

Place of Birth:

Los Angeles, California


B.A., Johnson State College

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

I was surprised to see a white man walk into Joppy's bar. It's not just that he was white but he wore an off-white linen suit and shirt with a Panama straw hat and bone shoes over flashing white silk socks. His skin was smooth and pale with just a few freckles. One lick of strawberry-blond hair escaped the band of his hat. He stopped in the doorway, filling it with his large frame, and surveyed the room with pale eyes; not a color I'd ever seen in a man's eyes. When he looked at me I felt a thrill of fear, but that went away quickly because I was used to white people by 1948.

I had spent five years with white men, and women, from Africa to Italy, through Paris, and into the Fatherland itself. I ate with them and slept with them, and I killed enough blue-eyed young men to know that they were just as afraid to die as I was.

The white man smiled at me, then he walked to the bar where Joppy was running a filthy rag over the marble top. They shook hands and exchanged greetings like old friends.

The second thing that surprised me was that he made Joppy nervous. Joppy was a tough ex-heavyweight who was comfortable brawling in the ring or in the street, but he ducked his head and smiled at that white man just like a salesman whose luck had gone bad.

I put a dollar down on the bar and made to leave, but before I was off the stool Joppy turned my way and waved me toward them.

"Com'on over here, Easy. This here's somebody I want ya t'meet."

I could feel those pale eyes on me.

"This here's a ole friend'a mines, Easy. Mr. Albright."

"You can call me DeWitt, Easy," the white man said. His grip was strong but slithery, like a snake coiling around my hand.

"Hello," I said.

"Yeah, Easy," Joppy went on, bowing and grinning. "Mr. Albright and me go way back. You know he prob'ly my oldest friend from L.A. Yeah, we go ways back."

"That's right," Albright smiled. "It must've been 1935 when I met Jop. What is it now? Must be thirteen years. That was back before the war, before every farmer, and his brother's wife, wanted to come to L.A."

Joppy guffawed at the joke; I smiled politely. I was wondering what kind of business Joppy had with that man and, along with that, I wondered what kind of business that man could have with me.

"Where you from, Easy?" Mr. Albright asked.


"Houston, now that's a nice town. I go down there sometimes, on business." He smiled for a moment. He had all the time in the world. "What kind of work you do up here?"

Up close his eyes were the color of robins' eggs; matte and dull.

"He worked at Champion Aircraft up to two days ago," Joppy said when I didn't answer. "They laid him off."

Mr. Albright twisted his pink lips, showing his distaste. "That's too bad. You know these big companies don't give a damn about you. The budget doesn't balance just right and they let ten family men go. You have a family, Easy?" He had a light drawl like a well-to-do Southern gentleman.

"No, just me, that's all," I said.

"But they don't know that. For all they know you could have ten kids and one on the way but they let you go just the same."

"That's right!" Joppy shouted. His voice sounded like a regiment of men marching through a gravel pit. "Them people own them big companies don't never even come in to work, they just get on the telephone to find out how they money is. And you know they better get a good answer or some heads gonna roll."

Mr. Albright laughed and slapped Joppy on the arm. "Why don't you get us some drinks, Joppy? I'll have scotch. What's your pleasure, Easy?"

"Usual?" Joppy asked me.


When Joppy moved away from us Mr. Albright turned to look around the room. He did that every few minutes, turning slightly, checking to see if anything had changed. There wasn't much to see though. Joppy's was a small bar on the second floor of a butchers' warehouse. His only usual customers were the Negro butchers and it was early enough in the afternoon that they were still hard at work.

The odor of rotted meat filled every corner of the building; there were few people, other than butchers, who could stomach sitting in Joppy's bar.

Joppy brought Mr. Albright's scotch and a bourbon on the rocks for me. He put them both down and said, "Mr. Albright lookin' for a man to do a li'l job, Easy. I told him you outta work an' got a mortgage t'pay too."

"That's hard." Mr. Albright shook his head again. "Men in big business don't even notice or care when a workingman wants to try to make something out of himself."

"And you know Easy always tryin' t'be better. He just got his high school papers from night school and he been threatenin' on some college." Joppy wiped the marble bar as he spoke. "And he's a war hero, Mr. Albright. Easy went in with Patton. Volunteered! You know he seen him some blood."

"That a fact?" Albright said. He wasn't impressed. "Why don't we go have a chair, Easy? Over there by the window."

Joppy's windows were so dingy that you couldn't see out onto 103rd Street. But if you sat at a small cherry table next to them, at least you had the benefit of the dull glow of daylight.

"You got a mortgage to meet, eh, Easy? The only thing that's worse than a big company is the bank. They want their money on the first and if you miss the payment, they will have the marshal knocking down your door on the second."

"What's my business got to do with you, Mr. Albright? I don't wanna be rude, but I just met you five minutes ago and now you want to know all my business."

"Well, I thought that Joppy said you needed to get work or you were going to lose your house."

"What's that got to do with you?"

"I just might need a bright pair of eyes and ears to do a little job for me, Easy."

"And what kind of work is it that you do?" I asked. I should have gotten up and walked out of there, but he was right about my mortgage. He was right about the banks too.

"I used to be a lawyer when I lived in Georgia. But now I'm just another fella who does favors for friends, and for friends of friends."

"What kind of favors?"

"I don't know, Easy." He shrugged his great white shoulders. "Whatever somebody might need. Let's say that you need to get a message to someone but it's not, um, convenient for you to do it in person; well, then you call me and I take the job. You see I always do the job I'm asked to do, everybody knows that, so I always have lots of work. And sometimes I need a little helper to get the job done. That's where you come in."

"And how's that?" I asked. While he talked it dawned on me that Albright was a lot like a friend I had back in Texas — Raymond Alexander was his name but we called him Mouse. Just thinking about Mouse set my teeth on edge.

"I need to find somebody and I might need a little help looking."

"And who is it you want to — "

"Easy," he interrupted. "I can see that you're a smart man with a lot of very good questions. And I'd like to talk more about it, but not here." From his shirt pocket he produced a white card and a white enameled fountain pen. He scrawled on the card and then handed it to me.

"Talk to Joppy about me and then, if you want to try it out, come to my office any time after seven tonight."

He downed the shot, smiled at me again, and stood up, straightening his cuffs. He tilted the Panama hat on his head and saluted Joppy, who grinned and waved from behind the bar. Then Mr. DeWitt Albright strolled out of Joppy's place like a regular customer going home after his afternoon snort.

The card had his name printed on it in flourished letters. Below that was the address he'd scribbled. It was a downtown address; a long drive from Watts.

I noted that Mr. DeWitt Albright didn't pay for the drinks he ordered. Joppy didn't seem in a hurry to ask for his money though.

Copyright © 1990 by Walter Mosley

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Devil in a Blue Dress: Featuring an Original Easy Rawlins Short Story "Crimson Stain" 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
God bless the day Mosley invented Mouse, I know this book is about Easy rawlings, but Mouse is one of those characters that stay in your mind 24 hours a day. Mosley's Literary brilliance is overwhelmingly clear in this novel. this is a must read for any mystery and action novel fan.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Devil In A Blue Dress is a beautiful book, with its Southern dialect and the change of the pace of Los Angeles's tough streets. Devil In A Blue Dress tells the story of Ekeziel 'Easy' Rawlins and his quest to pay his mortrage after he is fired from his job at a defense plant. The books explores the racial and gender segregation in post war America. It invites you, the reader, into a web of desire and intrigue.
jennifer worry More than 1 year ago
This book is a great mystery. The plot is extremely well written with many suprising twists along the way. Easy Rawlins is a very interesting character, and it's very easy to get lost in his life. You'll defenitely find yourself rooting for the underdog in this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my favorote Easy Rawlins mystery. I am addicted to these books.If you like the 1940's, jazz, and mysteries then this book and the others are for you!
divas_lioness More than 1 year ago
My first read by Walter Mosley, but it won't be my last. I want to read the entire Easy Rawlings series. The excitement and mystery surrounding the book made it a page turner. Loved the unexpected outcome. Looking forward to the next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read this for an intro to detective fiction class and I definitely enjoyed it. It was an easy read and I knocked it out in a few hours but it still kept my interest.
Anonymous 12 months ago
Its as if Ellison and hammett decided to write a novel together
LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mosley is notably in the hard-boiled detective tradition. His "Easy" Rawlins is a war veteran in 1948 Los Angeles, and there's plenty of dark, gritty atmosphere, beautiful women of doubtful virtue, corrupt cops and danger down every corner and a strong first person voice. Mosley can boast a smooth prose style with deft and evocative imagery.Oh, and his protagonist is a bigot who says he hates white people, who calls his boss at the factory "a slaver" and who when he gets a chain letter "supposed that it was a white gang preying on the superstition of Southern Negroes." It could be argued Rawlins' racism is understandable--just about every white person in this story slips the N-word into their encounters with Rawlins--particularly the police detectives that pay him a visit. And yes, this is set in 1948 after all. But the relentlessly negative depiction of Whites wore on me so that about a third way through I'd had more than enough of Rawlins and I very much doubt I'll read another novel by Mosley.
Smiler69 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Easy Rawlins has just lost his factory job and needs to find a way to make money before the the mortgage payment comes due for his home within just a few days. This is the late 1940s and Ezekiel has returned from the war battle worn and with few illusions, and his house is the one stable thing in his life for which he's willing to fight in order to keep. When a suspicious white man enrols him to find a white girl called Daphne Monet, last seen in one of the illegal bars in the company of a well-known gangster, Easy knows he can't trust the man and questions his motives for wanting to find Daphne in the first place. But money is money and this job pays well... but is he prepared for the most dangerous character in the story in the shape of a very beautiful and sexy Daphne? This first novel in the Easy Rawlins series has a lot going for it, not least of which the descriptions of a bygone nitty gritty downtown Los Angeles where walking into a bar could be more dangerous than walking the streets at night. The hardboiled atmosphere is palpable and Ezekiel is easy to like, which means I'll more than likely be revisiting this series in near future. Having read this very shortly after the first book in the Harlem Cycle by Chester Himes, I feel confident in saying that Mosley was more than likely influenced by his predecessor, and that can only be a good thing.
SeriousGrace on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Devil in a Blue Dress is Walter Mosley's first book and kicks off the Easy Rawlins series. Easy Rawlins is a black war WWII vet prone to flashbacks. In the beginning Devil in a Blue Dress he is fired from his defense plant job and doesn't know how he's going to pay the mortgage next month. By the second chapter Easy has been hired to locate a missing girlfriend, a devil in a blue dress as they say. Throughout the next 200 pages Easy faces his share of violence, sex, racism and mystery but in the end, discovers a new found career - private investigations.
Darrol on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I like the atmosphere of this story; a good read.
wdwilson3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I¿d never read a Walter Mosley book before, but this won¿t be my last. Mosley¿s Easy Rawlins inhabits a world I¿ll never know ¿ black Los Angeles, 1948. Rawlins might have gotten along OK with Philip Marlowe and Lew Archer -- this is tough, gritty territory, and Mosley¿s dialogue and plotting are exceptionally fine. The story is convoluted enough to do Raymond Chandler proud, and the dialogue seems earthy and authentic. I understand now why Mosley has such an enthusiastic following.
astults on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This detective novel is not for the faint of heart. Murders, incest, pedophilia, racism and police brutality all find their way into the life of Easy Rawlins after he¿s let go from his job at Champion Aircraft. Easy is a veteran of World War II living in Los Angeles in 1948. He¿s got a mortgage to pay on a house he loves with no new source of income in sight. An acquaintance of a friend asks him to locate a specific pretty young woman who was proving difficult to find. While parts of Easy¿s world are violent, Mosley doesn¿t shove that violence into the reader¿s face. Easy knows the status quo - he¿s seen and heard a lot things even if he hasn¿t experienced them firsthand - and this lets him wiggle off the hook when necessary or look the other way until something can be done about the injustice.The writing is tight. Characters that seem like they¿re only there for color reappear when least expected. No holes are left when the reader discovers who did what. Cultural and character back story are given without reading like information dumps. This won¿t be the last work of Mosley¿s I¿ll read. I only regret it took me this long to get around to it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the debut of WALTER MOSLEY and the first in his EASY RAWLINS series, which has been very successful and received much acclaim. The novel was published 1990 but the series is continuing to this day, though the author briefly abandoned it for other projects only to resume it after a few idle years. I've gotten all of these mysteries through the years and enjoyed them the first time. A second reading is less satisfying because Mosley is writing about black America circa 1950 from the vantage point of more contemporary times, i.e. the nineties and the turn of the century, so he interjects how much worse conditions were for Negroes back then compared to the present via the first person observations of the main character, who sounds like he is recollecting earlier stories instead of relating them in real time as they are occurring. This technique betrays the sense of realism needed for the story to be believable. The author would've done better to keep the narrator's knowledge and understanding confined to the specific period within which the events are contained and without benefit of hindsight. Chandler didn't have Marlowe reminisce about old days; he set the cases in the time he was living instead of a previous era. The series has to be read in order of publication because it follows a chronological pattern(1948...1952...1961...) so skipping installments means missing important developments. It's like a TV show where they recap what already happened before each episode except the writer expects the reader to be up to date without review.
ThePolyBlog More than 1 year ago
PLOT OR PREMISE: Easy Rawlins lives in L.A., 1948. He's a black war veteran who just lost his job for mouthing off to the boss. Then a man comes along with an easy proposition: find a girl who was hanging out with the blacks at the jazz bars. While Easy needs the money to keep the little house he bought, he wants to know why the guy wants the girl found. Then he finds out others are looking too. Bodies pile up, having been worked over first, and the girl turns out to be connected to politics. While Easy finds the girl, it comes along with a lot of trouble from crooks, politicos, and cops who think he's good for one of the murders. . WHAT I LIKED: The story moves, the characters are interesting, and the descriptions of the settings are well-written enough to give the reader the feel of each place in the story. . WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: The characters may be interesting but are not well-developed. This story definitely has the feel of the pulp mystery fiction of the 50s and 60s, with lots of action, but no depth to the main characters. I never particularly cared about Easy, although I like the parameters of the character. . BOTTOM-LINE: Smooth as silk . DISCLOSURE: I received no compensation, not even a free copy, in exchange for this review. I am not personal friends with the author, nor do I follow him on social media.
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Why is the kindle version cheaper?
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