Farewell, Amethystine

Image of Farewell, Amethystine (Easy Rawlins, 16)
Release Date: 
June 4, 2024
Mulholland Books
Reviewed by: 

“Farewell, Amethystine is a pleasure to sink into, a well-written traditional PI novel scented with the music of the time and the hope that things will continue to get better.”

With the 16th in his series featuring Black investigator Easy (Ezekiel) Rawlins, Walter Mosley evokes nostalgia for the rapid changes in America in 1970. On a busy Monday morning, the team’s tossing the news of the day, including Black activist Angela Davis in action at the nearby University of California, Los Angeles.

But all the national news narrows down to the effect of one client arriving: Amy Stoller, whose nickname stands for Amethystine, and whose fragrance, appearance, and daring make up a bundle that Rawlins can’t help admiring. Plus it seems like Amethystine is here to do a favor of honor, helping out her former in-laws in the search for her vanished ex-husband. It’s a beguiling package.

Soon the extra details of the first couple of chapters drift aside, as Rawlins trades favors and an occasional hundred-dollar bill for information among the cops, hotel workers, and his long-term allies in the LA detection business. As a Black man of steadily amassed substance, most of it hidden, he’s often immune now to the persistent racist brutality of the city. His estimated income is $26,000 per year, more than double what most white families made at the time, and as he comments to himself, “I wasn’t rich, but I sure didn’t need to be going out among hammerhands and scalawags in the middle of the night at some desolate warehouse in Canoga Park.” Not that he can resist that invitation, either.

One of the pleasures of Easy Rawlins at this point in his career is how easily he lines up the tools and teamwork for any detection caper. Firearm? No problem. Backup? Of course. In harmony with this achieved smoothness is the warmth and safety of his home life, where his daughter, granddaughter, and the “son of his heart” reside. But of course, his family knows generally what kind of business he operates, and half of his personal worries revolve around keeping them calm and uninvolved. Good thing he has so many friends to step in, instead.

Fans of this series will appreciate the chance to learn more about the childhood and adolescence of this licensed PI. And it’s not hard to guess that since Amethystine keeps recalling the long-ago love of his youthful life, Anger Lee, Rawlins won’t see her quite clearly. “Do you trust me?” she asks him, and he has just enough self-possession to remember that when new acquaintances ask that, there’s something else going on.

Roll with this smoothly written crime fiction from a grandmaster of narrative and gentle suspense, where almost all the dead folks earned it in some way, and generosity pays off. This is also a time when Rawlins begins to see changes in the LA police, with alliances at last across the color line. So Farewell, Amethystine is a pleasure to sink into, a well-written traditional PI novel scented with the music of the time and the hope that things will continue to get better.

And if Rawlins is wrong to try some trust for Amethystine, he’s not unrewarded: “Amethystine Stoller brought to me succor without asking for a thing. . . . In those long decades, which seemed to span centuries, I had been brutalized, ripped off, lied to, pursued, and kissed in kind, but as rarely as an orchid blooming in winter was I given what I needed without asking.”