The Big Blowdown (D.C. Quartet Series #1)by George Pelecanos
For Joey Recevo and Pete Karras, two kids from one of Washington's rougher neighborhoods, the easiest work to find after the War is all criminal - providing a little muscle for a local boss. But Karras is soft on his fellow immigrants, and the boss can't let his mob get soft, so one of his boys gives Karras a painful lesson. Three years later, it's this same mob that… See more details below
For Joey Recevo and Pete Karras, two kids from one of Washington's rougher neighborhoods, the easiest work to find after the War is all criminal - providing a little muscle for a local boss. But Karras is soft on his fellow immigrants, and the boss can't let his mob get soft, so one of his boys gives Karras a painful lesson. Three years later, it's this same mob that figures big Nick Stefanos's grill needs protection - and this decision will, once again, bring Joey and Pete face-to-face. In this final confrontation, the two of them will find the meaning of friendship and honor, and its cost.
Though Nick's Grill provides the turf his heroes can battle over, Nick himself takes a backseat to three even scrappier types. There's Joe Recevo, a bagman for a suave, brutal boss named Burke (a Richard Conte role). There's Peter Karras, Recevo's childhood friend, who followed him into Burke's gang but got carried out on Burke-crippled legs when he drew the line at shaking down an old friend of Karras's hated father. And there's Michael Florek, an innocent who's climbed down from the Pennsylvania hills in search of his sister Lola, a hophead whore now spreading her legs in the nation's capital as a nightmare john stalks the fringes of the story cutting up prostituteswithout causing Karras's friend Jimmy Boyle, a D.C. cop so hot for his gold shield that he's getting hooked on uppers, a single sleepless night. Pelecanos fills his bars with hot, smoky music and his streets with colorful lowlifes, but he lingers so lovingly over the tough childhood memories Karras and Recevo share, their wartime traumas, and their present affairseven though Karras is respectably married to his first love, he can't keep his hands off census taker Vera Gardner, who worries all the time about the Bombthat you can tell early on where this story is heading: toward a showdown over Nick's, when Burke picks his place to lead the block in paying protection money, and Nick digs in his heels, and Karras and Recevo face off one last time.
A workmanlike, atmospheric retro noirOnce Upon a Time in America meets The Big Combo. If it's not quite as original or resonant as the Big Book Pelecanos seems to have had in mind, you'll still find yourself feeling everything you're supposed to about the familiar demi-heroic types and their grim postwar world.
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