The Walter Mosley discussion has been great. Michael, do check out some of the more recent Easy Rawlins books. CINNAMON KISS and BLONDE FAITH both show how much Easy has changed over the years.
I agree that Mouse appears to take great pleasure in killing, whereas Hawk seems to do it more out of necessity (though he doesn't exactly bust out cryin' about it afterward, either). Regardless, both characters represent sidekicks who end up doing the "dirty work" for the protagonist.
I've noticed other authors using this device. In Harlan Coben's series about sports agent Myron Bolitar, the protagonist has a sidekick named Win who does his dirty work and even takes pleasure in killing people--and, FWIW, Win is a preppy, white guy--thus, it would seem the role of violent alterego is an equal opportunity position . . .
-- Debbi Mack IDENTITY CRISIS A Sam McRae Mystery http://www.debbimack.com
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