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Hell to Pay (Derek Strange & Terry Quinn Series #2)

Average Rating 3.5
( 20 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

The deliverance of hope in darkness

George Pelecanos is a crime novelist unlike any other. By page two (or even one), you know you're in GP territory. He has an indelible 'style' that is almost a 'non-style'. His dialogue, particularly among the hopeless who survive (literally) in the ghetto, is dead-a...
George Pelecanos is a crime novelist unlike any other. By page two (or even one), you know you're in GP territory. He has an indelible 'style' that is almost a 'non-style'. His dialogue, particularly among the hopeless who survive (literally) in the ghetto, is dead-accurate, often terrifying, and almost tactile. His books, at first blush, appear to be artless, but he paints painful pictures of the brutality of the streets. In 'Hell to Pay,' he offers us, once again, the imperfections of Derek Strange, a conflicted man of both great and weak moral strength. His girlfriend suspects he's on a mission to 'save the world,' and, of course, that's untrue. The world-weary, sadly pragmatic Strange only wants to save those few he thinks he CAN save among the ghetto's embattled and disaffected youth. Strange is an interesting protagonist -- no hard-boiled kick-ass, but a man in his late 50s who still harbors nostalgia over his late father, a cook in a Greek diner. His partner, Terry Quinn, the white man with rage in his veins, seemingly cannot resist the dangers of the ghetto and its thugs, who will never accept him, and regularly disrespect him. This pecularity in Quinn is a reminder of the torture of his inner conflict: he's a man seeking acceptance in BOTH worlds (white and black). Pelecanos has no 'seamless' plot with tricks galore (a la the brilliant Michael Connelly). He just drives a brutal story forward with dialogue that leaps from the page. I don't think anyone uses dialogue as a narrative device the way GP does. This is a strong story that, despite its terror and darkness, is about the possibility of salvation, the deliverance of hope that is personified in the imperfections and all-too-human flaws of Derek Strange.

posted by Anonymous on July 31, 2006

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Can't seem to engage me ..

Maybe I'm not "hip" enough to enjoy this book or maybe being a white, middle-class man prevents me from identifying with the poor, black characters in this book. Either way, Pelecanos, whose reviews are always great and is often favorably compared to other authors I enj...
Maybe I'm not "hip" enough to enjoy this book or maybe being a white, middle-class man prevents me from identifying with the poor, black characters in this book. Either way, Pelecanos, whose reviews are always great and is often favorably compared to other authors I enjoy like Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly, just doesn't do it for me in this one. I read RIGHT AS RAIN as well hoping that I'd like this series, but I just can't say I do. Maybe his other series is better and worth a look at.

posted by Anonymous on November 20, 2002

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2006

    The deliverance of hope in darkness

    George Pelecanos is a crime novelist unlike any other. By page two (or even one), you know you're in GP territory. He has an indelible 'style' that is almost a 'non-style'. His dialogue, particularly among the hopeless who survive (literally) in the ghetto, is dead-accurate, often terrifying, and almost tactile. His books, at first blush, appear to be artless, but he paints painful pictures of the brutality of the streets. In 'Hell to Pay,' he offers us, once again, the imperfections of Derek Strange, a conflicted man of both great and weak moral strength. His girlfriend suspects he's on a mission to 'save the world,' and, of course, that's untrue. The world-weary, sadly pragmatic Strange only wants to save those few he thinks he CAN save among the ghetto's embattled and disaffected youth. Strange is an interesting protagonist -- no hard-boiled kick-ass, but a man in his late 50s who still harbors nostalgia over his late father, a cook in a Greek diner. His partner, Terry Quinn, the white man with rage in his veins, seemingly cannot resist the dangers of the ghetto and its thugs, who will never accept him, and regularly disrespect him. This pecularity in Quinn is a reminder of the torture of his inner conflict: he's a man seeking acceptance in BOTH worlds (white and black). Pelecanos has no 'seamless' plot with tricks galore (a la the brilliant Michael Connelly). He just drives a brutal story forward with dialogue that leaps from the page. I don't think anyone uses dialogue as a narrative device the way GP does. This is a strong story that, despite its terror and darkness, is about the possibility of salvation, the deliverance of hope that is personified in the imperfections and all-too-human flaws of Derek Strange.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2002

    Can't seem to engage me ..

    Maybe I'm not "hip" enough to enjoy this book or maybe being a white, middle-class man prevents me from identifying with the poor, black characters in this book. Either way, Pelecanos, whose reviews are always great and is often favorably compared to other authors I enjoy like Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly, just doesn't do it for me in this one. I read RIGHT AS RAIN as well hoping that I'd like this series, but I just can't say I do. Maybe his other series is better and worth a look at.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2012

    Good read

    This was a god enjoyable book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2012

    I would not recommend this book.

    I found this book predictable and simplistic. It had too much cheap sex rather than good characters and depth. I would not read another book by this author.

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  • Posted April 14, 2012

    Great read.

    Keeps you reading. Good book.

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  • Posted April 11, 2012

    Good Read.

    First book I've read by George Pelecanos, liked it and will read more from him.

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  • Posted March 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    No competition

    Rhythmic, atmospheric, satisfying. There is no one like this writer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2004

    Really helping me get a good night's sleep

    There's a lot of good crime and noir fiction out there, but this ain't it. I gave up after 100 pages: the characters simply aren't engaging, they all sound alike in dialogue, and nothing happens, save for an excess of superfluous and tediously detailed description. I have to say I just don't get all the praise; maybe some of his other books are better. John Sandford, Dennis Lehane and Michael Connolly, to name but three, write circles around Pelecanos.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2003

    Will prob never read another by this author

    It was an extremely overdetailed slow novel. The murder took a long time to happen. Don't expect to get the connection in the first 100 pages, in fact, I was hard pressed to connect after the first 100 pages. There is a great deal of detail about music which seems mainly there to impress us of his knowledge. It is not used skillfully as Vachss or Burke uses it to set the scene. There simply wasn't enough there to cause me to care about the two main characters. Perhaps if I had read one of his other novels before I might have been invested enough care about them now. I do know that when offered more of his books for 10 cents each at a booksale, I turned them down. I felt I didn't want to spend the time but picked up 5 by my recommened authors for a buck each and grinned the whole way home.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2003

    Pelecanos just keeps getting better

    The dialog is authentic and jumps off the page. Rarely do you find books that seem to read themselves to you. George Pelecanos books do that to me. Real, flawed main characters who just want to do the right thing. The message in Hell to Pay is 'where are the parents'. It really hits home.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2003

    Superb novel

    I have come to the conclusion that George Pelecanos is not capable of writing a bad book. His realistic settings and his second to none dialog places him at the top of the genre along with Lehane, Coben, and Connelly. If you have not read any Pelecanos give him a try, and Hell To Pay is as good as place as any to begin

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2003

    Is it Fiction ?

    Nearly 25 years ago I lived near 14th street. The book got me immediately on the hook and I felt that it describes in a way reality.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 17, 2013

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    Posted March 12, 2012

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    Posted February 4, 2013

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    Posted April 17, 2012

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    Posted March 13, 2012

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    Posted August 17, 2010

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    Posted January 12, 2010

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    Posted March 13, 2012

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