- Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins is an out of work African American man who has moved to Los Angeles from Houston. Easy is a war veteran and owns his own home. He is drawn into a mystery by Dewitt Albright, who hires him to locate Daphne Monet, telling him that it is on behalf of a wealthy businessman named Todd Carter. Easy had no interest in life as a detective, but his tutelage under Albright encourages him to consider doing "favors" for people as an ongoing career.
- Raymond "Mouse" Alexander is Easy's best friend. Mouse is described as dangerous and deadly. Easy calls him to assist when the case becomes dangerous but Mouse's deadly nature causes Easy to question whether this is the right decision.
- Daphne Monet is the young woman who has gone missing in the Watts neighborhood of LA. Easy Rawlins is tasked to find her and as a result, gets caught up in the intrigue.
- Dewitt Albright is the white private investigator who hires Easy to find Daphne Monet.
- Frank Green is a criminal in the Watts neighborhood who is known for his skills with a knife. He is connected to Daphne Monet and a person of interest in Easy's investigation.
- Jackson Blue is Easy's intelligent and cowardly friend who assists him with information on his case.
- Matthew Teran is a pedophile who recently dropped out of the mayor's race. He keeps a little Mexican boy as a sex slave and is grotesque in appearance. He tries to use Daphne to get back at Mr. Carter, who forced him to withdraw his candidacy.
- Odell Jones is Easy's quiet, cautious, religious middle-aged friend. He is wont to sit at John's or Vernie's and sip one beer all night. Odell is a voice of fear, advising Easy to run away from his problems.
- Todd Carter - a well-connected white man who has a relationship with Daphne Monet. The president of Lion Investments. He is a humble-looking, weak-willed man with more money than any other character. He dated Daphne Monet until she stole thirty-thousand dollars from him and left him. He hires Mr. Albright and later, Easy, to bring Daphne back to him. He also helps Easy avoid jail time.
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