Picks and Pans Review: A Little Yellow Dog

updated 07/15/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/15/1996 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Walter Mosley

Easy Rawlins is in a jam. Embarking on his fifth adventure, the popular black sleuth finds himself up against an adversary more insidious than the usual suspects. This time trouble strikes from a surprising source—the much-praised author himself, who loses his mystery in all the noir mist.

The tale gets off to a tantalizing start as Easy succumbs to the charms of Idabell Turner, a teacher at the Watts junior high school where he's working by day as head custodian. But he quickly pays for his moments of passion: The lady vanishes, leaving Easy with her snappish little mutt, Pharaoh; he finds a snazzily dressed corpse in the school's garden; and police suspect him of murdering her husband—and/or hubby's twin brother.

From there, Easy's—and the reader's—headaches multiply. Without mug shots you're not likely to keep straight the dizzying parade of thugs, both with and without badges, gunning for him and sidekick Mouse.

As Mosley fans have come to expect, the vibrant black community is vividly evoked, and his reluctant hero is as ingratiating as ever. If you're in the market for an enjoyable yarn that happens to have a high body count, Dog won't disappoint you. But if it's suspense you crave, you'll be barking up the wrong tree. (Norton, $23)

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