Mystery Writer Walter Mosley

Detective writer Walter Mosley has retired his celebrated gumshoe Easy Rawlins of Devil in a Blue Dress fame and created a new hardboiled hero — former mob crook and private eye Leonid McGill

David Burnett

Walter Mosley

Detective writer Walter Mosley loves to dig deep into his characters. He wrote 11 books featuring the Los Angeles-based gumshoe Easy Rawlins (the first of which, Devil in a Blue Dress, was made into a Denzel Washington film) before retiring him in 2007. His latest private eye, former mob crook Leonid McGill, stars in the new novel Known to Evil, the second in what Mosley hopes will be a 10-book series. Mosley spoke with TIME about why he doesn't read mystery novels, the importance of character names, and why he never benefits from inspiration.

You've written that Leonid...

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