Sunday, November 27, 2011

George Pelecanos, I Love You Man But.....'re killing me! I've been an avid follower for years George. I'll never forget the day the phone at my cubicle rang and when I picked up there you were on the other end just like any regular Joe. I was having heart palpitations! You graciously responded to my invitation to head south to our reading festival and what a great year that was! It was my first year with Don, who accompanied me to the Evening with the Authors reception just so that he could meet you.

Now, I know that you walk on the dark side but why'd you have to do those boys that way in The Way Home? I can't take it! I get that you write for The Wire, I get that life doesn't always have happy endings but someone, somewhere in DC must find redemption!

Readers, I can't say enough about George Pelecanos and his books. They're so much more than crime novels. They're a love offering to the District of Columbia for one thing, and for another, I see them as a paean to the human condition. Pelecanos throws in enough politics to keep me in his corner and one can hope that his heart felt cries for juvenile court reform are not falling on deaf ears.

I have several autographed copies of his books but I prefer to listen to Pelecanos because of Dion Graham. He's the perfect reader for these deep, dark novels. His voice is low, rough and sensual. He seduces the reader, lulling you in and then smacking you down with the overt violence that's generally at the core of these stories, the Sturm und Drang of life on the streets for kids released from juvenile lockup with no place to go, no one to believe in them.

 The Way Home is a novel about a cadre of boys who served together in a juvenile detention facility for minor crimes, mostly the kind of drug use practiced by our last three presidents but hey - if you're a kid from the hood, you're going to do time. Chris Flynn doesn't fit the profile. Raised by loving parents, business owners, upwardly mobile types who work hard to give Chris the things and the future they never thought they'd have, Chris's parents agonize over where they went wrong.

They provide Chris and his buddy Ben with a second chance, honest work as carpet installers for Flynn Carpets. Chris and Ben have an easy rapport and camaraderie engendered by their shared past at Pine Ridge Detention Facility. But one day, while tearing up some old flooring, they discover a hidden bag full of money and old temptations gurgle to the surface.

If money is the root of all evil, you won't doubt it for a minute as you watch this cash become the catalyst for all of the horrific action that follows. It will test the already tenuous relationship between Chris and his dad Tom Flynn, force Chris's fiancee to question her trust in his innate goodness, and perhaps derail all the redemptive actions that these young men have taken on their way to a better life.

George Pelecanos is without peer, in my humble opinion, when we talk about literary crime novels. He gets better, deeper, more psychologically astute with age. Yes, you'll need to take a break now and then and read some fluff to help you down from the edge, but you'll find yourself going back. I can't wait for his latest to hit the streets. Watch for The Cut at a library or bookstore near you.


Kelly Robinson said...

I never find really good blogs clicking "Next Blog" on Blogger, but I can't help doing it anyway. This is a pleasant surprise, and we have some similar tastes in books. Happy to be a new follower.

Sally B said...

Hi Kelly, I'm so pleased that you found me. Thanks for the comment and, since we like some of the same things, I'll be watching with pleasure.