Fear Itself: A Fearless Jones Novel by Walter Mosley
Paris Minton doesn't want any trouble. He minds his used bookstore and his own business. But in 1950s Los Angeles, sometimes trouble finds him, no matter how hard he tries to avoid it. When the nephew of the wealthiest woman in L.A. is missing and wanted for murder, she has to get involved--no matter if she can't stand him. What will her church think? She hires Jefferson T. Hill, a former sheriff of Dawson, Texas, and a tough customer, to track him down and prove his innocence. When Hill goes missing too, she tricks his friend Fearless Jones and Paris Minton into picking up the case. Paris steps inside the world of the black bourgeoisie, and it turns out to be filled with deceit and corruption. It takes everything he has just to stay alive through a case filled with twists and turns and dead ends like he never imagined. Written with the voice and vision that have made Walter Mosley one of the most entertaining writers in America, FEAR ITSELF marks the return of a master at the top of his form.
Noir in '50s LA, October 3, 2003
from Marathon, FL USA
A departure from the Easy Rawlins series, this second Fearless Jones novel, set in 1950s LA, is narrated by Fearless' sidekick, Paris Minton, a fearful, neurotic, intellectual Watts bookshop owner. Fearless, aptly named, has a soft side for women in trouble, so when a woman asks him to find her husband, a man Fearless has been working for, he enlists Paris' help. Paris shudders at the thought, but his big friend brings out the courage in him - "being friends with him was like having one of God's second cousins as a pal" - and besides, a white man shows up looking for Fearless. "I needed to know if my friend's problems were going to spill over onto me." Mosley writes a well-plotted mystery, full of twists and murders and double crossings, but within the mystery framework he explores nuances of character and the ways black people get by in the white people's world. Inarticulate, dangerous Fearless, living day-to-day, is a generous, principled man with an uncanny ability to read people, while Paris, the literate one, fights a craven, selfish streak. Paris is reflective though, and while not always proud of himself, he knows what he can live with. The plot takes us through the alleys and backstreets of LA, to bail bondsmen, aggressive cops and LA's wealthiest black businesswoman who has suffered a robbery so devastating she won't talk about it. As always, Mosley's writing is eloquent and compact, atmospheric and gritty. Grasping family members, racist cops and lowlifes of both colors, as well as the fluid Fearless and the twitchy Paris, propel the plot through the force and weakness of their characters.