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Posted December 9, 2008
gritty urban thriller
The case against drug dealer Granville Oliver is so tight that state execution is a sure shot especially since his deputy Philip Wood testified against him. Desperate, Granville¿s attorney hire DC private investigator Derek Strange to coax Wood¿s former girlfriend Devra Stokes, who once filed a brutality complaint against him, to testify so she can destroy his credibility leading to life instead of death for his client. At the same time, Strange¿s partner, former cop Terry Quinn¿s has a client, pathetic small time hood Mario Durham, who hires him to find his missing girlfriend Olivia Elliot. Mario is the older brother of the head of the notorious Six-hundred Crew in Washington Highlands. Terry knows his client lies about love forever, etc., as Terry wants his stolen drugs that she took from him. Other sleuths also work cases, as DC is a place for job security for private investigators. The eleventh appearance of Derek Strange is a powerful private investigative tale that shows how little society is doing to help teens make it. The Durham siblings are on the career path of criminality with no detours. Even prison time will do no more than slow down the pace of their fall. Guns and butter are the market place as both can be purchased easily and relatively cheaply. Still even with such a strong message, the tale is loaded with action, plenty of life and death scenes, and the return of long time characters like Foreman, and a surprise guest appearance by Nick Stefanos. This gritty urban thriller will leave most readers agreeing with the hero¿s thankful belief that his home is an oasis of love and care in a deadly desert. Harriet Klausner
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Posted July 9, 2006
I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. I just wish I had read Hell to Pay first. Derek Strange is a great character. If you enjoy reading James Patterson books with detective Alex Cross you should enjoy this, though a bit more edgy.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 27, 2006
Pelecanos: Existentialist crime novelist
This is only the second of Pelecanos's books I have read. (The first was 'Shoedog,' a startling exercise in noirish minimalism and a vivid recreation of existential characters caught in a hopeless, doomed caper.) In 'Soul Circus,' the existentialism pervades the characters' lives (with the exception of Derek Strange, who seems to be rock-solid and decent, the anti-hero's anti-hero who hunts bad people while understanding why they're bad he has a peculiar compassion for these people). The power and accuracy of the street language in 'Soul Circus' left me reeling. I've never read dialogue so flat-out realistic. It just jumps off the page. The novel is depressing, but I don't think Pelecanos set out to write a comedy. The word 'gritty' has often been used to describe his work, and that's a pretty accurate word for me. He's unique. Nobody writes so-called 'crime' novels the way he does: the dialogue not only shines, but seems to serve as a narrative device to propel the plot toward his central point (to me at least): the meaningless, out-of-control madness of doomed people who prey on each other. Pelecanos's novels are works of art. He is an original crime writer who writes brilliantly of doomed characters caught up in their own absurd world without seeming to realize that their world is indeed absurd (in the philosophical sense). To use an oxymoron, the characters seem to be hopeful nihilists. Great achievement by a great and gifted writer.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 9, 2003
A THINKING MAN'S THRILLER VERY WELL READ
With his 11th novel bestselling author George Pelecanos offers another powerful, disturbing and highly readable story set on the mean streets of Washington, D.C. Private investigator Derek Strange with the aid of Terry Quinn again takes center stage as turf battles erupt in violent grabs for territory and money. Accomplished voice performer Richard Allen adds just the right amounts of menace and bravado to his reading, ably inhabiting the skins of both good and bad guys. When a D. C. crime boss is captured and imprisoned he seems a shoo-in for the ultimate punishment. Lawyers representing the gang leader hire Strange to help in getting a lighter sentence. A witness is needed to cast doubt on testimony against the drug lord, and that witness might just be an angry former girlfriend. After all, hell hath no fury like a you-know-who. Meanwhile with the crime boss in jail two young drug dealers are jousting for the apparently up for grabs neighborhood and profits to come. It is, as Pelecanos makes clear, a vicious circle that goes round and round in an amoral neighborhood where fear rules and friendships are forsaken. Pelecanos writes thinking man's thrillers, as his legions of fans will attest.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 3, 2003
Pelecanos has well constructed plots but, honestly, I read his books for the insight he has into the lives of people, how they talk, and how they think. His characters are complex and fascinating. I heard Pelecanos talk recently and he described his work as urban westerns and it seems right to me. The characters' conversations on cars, sex, drugs, booze, and music add an extra dimension. He nails the rythm and flow of conversation of working-class city people. He does not sugar-coat anything.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 15, 2013
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