Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
In A Red Death, it is now 1953, the period of McCarthyism. Easy has used the money he made in Devil in a Blue Dress to buy rental properties, which he owns secretly. He pretends to work for Mofass, his manager and rent collector. Trouble looms, however, when an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent named Lawrence targets Easy for investigation. Easy is soon facing the possibility of prison.
As if this is not enough, Etta Mae and LaMarque, Mouse’s wife and son, come up from Houston. Etta Mae is estranged from Mouse and wants to live with Easy. Easy desires Etta Mae, but he knows that living with her might put him on a collision course with Mouse. Sure enough, Mouse appears in Watts, though he spends a night partying before looking up Easy. The delay gives Easy a chance to find an apartment for Etta Mae and LaMarque.
The situation with the IRS takes a twist during Easy’s meeting with Lawrence. Desperate enough to respond violently, Easy is saved from drastic action when a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent named Craxton offers to help. Craxton says that he will patch up Easy’s problems with the IRS in return for help in nailing a union organizer and suspected communist named Chaim Wenzler. Wenzler, a Jew, is also active in several black churches, including one in Easy’s neighborhood. Easy agrees to cooperate.
Easy meets Mouse in a bar. He tells Mouse the truth about Etta Mae and LaMarque, but he...
(The entire section is 897 words.)
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