Life is never easy for Easy Rawlins, and this tenth installment of Walter Mosley's always engrossing series yet again jams the part-time LA PI between a rock and a hard place. How does a black school janitor in his mid-40s come up with the $35,000 he needs to send his seriously ill daughter Feather to a Swiss health clinic? Easy's less-than-optimistic options: A bet in an armored-truck holdup engineered by his trigger-happy childhood friend Mouse Alexander or aid a creepily eccentric San Francisco recluse named Robert E. Lee (think a sinister Nero Wolfe) in tracking down Philomena "Cinnamon" Cargill, the exotic assistant to on-the-run anti-establishment attorney Axel Bowers. Add a cache of Nazi memorabilia and a bullet-proof hitman to the mix: priceless!
Following Mosley's last book, Little Scarlet, set in the superheated aftermath of the 1965 Watts riots, Kiss unfolds during the Summer of Love, with Easy skirting the counterculture scene. His encounters with the laid-back and color-blind hippies of Haight-Ashbury and Berkeley leave him longing for respite in some carefree commune, even as his personal and professional dilemmas bring him to the brink of despair.
In his Rawlins saga, Mosley continues to seamlessly mesh the human and the historical. The author began his writing life as a poet, and that's evident: The rhythms of his seemingly simple prose and lyrically natural dialogue remain hypnotically engaging throughout Cinnamon Kiss.