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Fear Itself    by Walter Mosley order for
Fear Itself
by Walter Mosley
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2003 (2003)
Hardcover, Audio, CD

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I love the narrator in Fear Itself. Bookseller Paris Minton is intelligent, small in stature and generally fearful ('afraid of rodents and birds, bald tires, fire, and loud noises'), but a loyal friend to Fearless Jones. The latter is 'not a smart man ... but if he ever looked into your eyes he would know more about your character than any psychiatrist, detective, or priest.' Fearless has an 'endless gullibility' towards women that often drags him into trouble and pulls in his friend Paris.

It turns out that a lady named Leora, with small boy Son in tow, has obtained Fearless's help to find the Watermelon Man, for whom Fearless has been working. So begins a convoluted plot, that involves a slew of corpses (one named Hercules), bail bondsman Milo Sweet, the richest black woman in LA and her extended dysfunctional family, a greedy white businessman, a relentless assassin named Theodore, and an heirloom book that Paris covets heart and soul.

Paris supplies the fearful brain and Fearless the intuitive brawn as they unravel this tangled web together. The relationship between the two drives the story more than the plot, though that does meander to a highly satisfying ending. If you like Raymond Chandler, then try Walter Mosley, who gives us Philip Marlowe in all the shades of brown.

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