Radio Seven is broadcasting Devil in a Blue Dress and I really wanted to flag this up for people. Walter Mosley's classic detective novel had been made into a film with Denzel Washington in the starring role but as is so often the way it never quite lived up to the book. Partly because, in my opinion, the casting didn't quite get Denzel's right hand man, Mouse, quite right.
This radio version is read by Paul Winfield who has a lovely bourbon gristle in his voice. Of course no production will ever be as good as the book, but it's nice to hear it read with a smile in the reader's voice.
I'm not sure what it is about Walter Mosley's books that I love so much - possibly the mixture of cynicism, hard bitten poverty and moral center. Maybe it's the tight writing and authenticity. As someone might have said once; authenticity, once you can fake that you've got it made.
Devil in a Blue Dress was Mosley's first book of dozens, many featuring the same core characters of Easy Rawlins and Mouse, two black toughs who are always finding trouble whether they're looking for it or not.
This first book finds Easy, a war veteran, laid off from the Los Angeles aircraft factory and down on his luck. Along comes the opportunity to make easy money - but it turns out easy money comes at a price.
The books explore race, gender, poverty, the nature of the state, a changing political landscape and the character of fear. However, whilst there's plenty of political reasons to enjoy these books (and the radio play of course) actually it's the mellow smokey taste of the narrative that makes them such a joy.
Gold star quote; "You said don't shoot him, right? Well I didn't. I choked him. If you didn't want him killed, then why did you leave him with me ?"