In a blockbuster new action thriller by master novelist Walter Mosley, "one of America's best mystery writers" (New York Times), bookstore owner Paris Minton and the deadliest man in L.A.-Fearless Jones-are back on the streets of 1950s Watts.
Mild-mannered Paris Minton is delivered a pile of trouble when Fearless Jones shows up with a simple request: help find a beautiful woman's husband. Lending a hand gets him hit upside the head, hogtied, kidnapped, and threatened with a gun the size of a cannon. Now he's wondering whom he should fear more: the people he's looking for or the people he's working for. Tangled up with cops, rival millionaires, several corpses, and one of L.A.'s wealthiest women, Paris Minton is in a corner-and not even his invincible friend Fearless can save him
In this eagerly anticipated follow-up to Fearless Jones (2001), Watts bookstore owner Paris Minton and the dangerous but principled Fearless Jones tread the familiar territory mapped so successfully by Mosley's original detecting duo, Easy Rawlins and Raymond "Mouse" Alexander. The author depicts 1950s Los Angeles with his usual unerring accuracy, but a somewhat different dynamic drives his heroes. When Fearless drags the reluctant Paris into helping him look for Kit Mitchell (aka the Watermelon Man), their quest turns quickly murderous. Timid bookworm Paris gets caught in a deadly game of hide-and-seek whose players deal in lead, money and lies and include members of the fractured and fractious family of millionaire black businesswoman Winifred L. Fine. Neither Fearless nor Paris is sure who or what the various seekers are after-the missing Mitchell, a fabulous emerald pendant or a family diary-only that it's valued more than the lives lost trying to find it. A desire to aid his friend Fearless initially motivates Paris, but his journey becomes a voyage of self-discovery. While Paris possesses a narrative voice that's more literate and middle-class than that of the street-smart Easy, it should still resonate with Mosley's legions of fans. (July 2) FYI: Mosley's most recent Easy Rawlings novel is Bad Boy Brawly Brown (Forecasts, June 17, 2002). Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Little, Brown and Company
June 30, 2004
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Excerpt from Fear Itself by Walter Mosley
A SUDDEN BANGING ON THE FRONT DOOR sent a chill down my neck and into my chest. It was two thirty-nine in the morning. I was up and out of my bed immediately, though still more than half asleep.
I had to go to the bathroom but the knocking was insistent; seven quick raps, then a pause, and then seven more. It reminded me of something but I was too confused to remember what.
"All right," I called out.
I considered staying quiet until the unwanted visitor gave up and left. But what if it was a thief? Maybe he was knocking to see if there was anybody home. If I stayed quiet he might just break the two-dollar lock and come in on me. I'm a small man, so even if he was just your run-of-the-mill sneak thief he might have broken my neck before realizing that Paris Minton's Florence Avenue Book Shop didn't have any money in the cash box.
I slept in an illegal loft space above the bookstore. It was the only way my little business could stay in the black. Selling used books doesn't have a very high profit margin, except for the reading pleasure. Some days the only customers brought in books to sell or barter. Other days I was the only patron, reading Don Quixote, Their Eyes Were Watching God, or some other great novel from sunup to sundown.
Mostly I sold westerns and mysteries and romances. But I rarely read those books. The women's genre wasn't written for a man's sensibilities and popular men's books were too violent.
"Let me in there, Paris," a voice I knew better than any other called out.
"Yeah, man. Let me in."
I hesitated a moment and a moment more.
I opened the door and Fearless Jones strode in, wearing a green suit with a white shirt, no tie, no hat, and dark shoes. The tip of the baby finger on his left hand was missing, shot off in a gunfight that almost got us both killed, and he had the slightest limp from a knife wound he'd received saving my life in San Francisco many years before.
Fearless was tall and dark, thin and handsome, but mostly he was powerful. He was stronger than any man I'd ever known, and his will was indomitable. Fearless wasn't a smart man. A twelve-year-old might have been a better reader, but if he ever looked into your eyes he would know more about your character than any psychiatrist, detective, or priest.
"I'm in trouble, Paris," we said together.
Fearless grinned but I didn't.
"I got to go to the toilet," I said.
I walked back through one of the two aisles of bookshelves that made up my store. Fearless followed me into the toilet, unashamed and still talking while I relieved myself in the commode.
"It was a woman named Leora Hartman," he was saying. "She came up to me at the Soul Food Shack."