Sometimes we’re looking to be dropped into a rich, moody world that doesn’t bear much resemblance to our everyday. A favorite escape is to the dark streets of mid-century Los Angeles, in the company of legendary detective Easy Rawlins. In Charcoal Joe, Rawlins is asked to aid a promising Stanford student charged with the race-related murder of a white man in the late 1960s. Author Walter Mosley, winner of the 2016 Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America, once again creates a door to history with gritty settings, lifelike characters, and velvet words.
Narrator Michael Boatman knows that the language of a Mosley story is its power, and he emphasizes the swagger and silk of the characters’ dialogue. Descriptions are spun with a cadence that makes them reality, and hard-boiled tension is equally earned. It’s a smooth performance, and one Easy himself would approve.