By George Pelecanos – Washington, D.C.: the Capitol, White House, Smithsonian, The Mall. Forget it. Pelecanos’s Washington exists outside these tourist-trod centers of power and culture, landing squarely in the territory of drug dealers, D.C. Jail, grease-pit restaurants, and sleazy auto shops. His characters aren’t the power-brokers talking endlessly around tables on the evening news. If they make the news, its ten seconds about a corpse found, a conviction, a police gone bad.
Pelecanos, who received an Emmy nomination for his writing on HBO’s gritty cop show The Wire, writes about a Washington, D.C. as authentically as anyone else out there. In this 2011 crime thriller, investigator Spero Lucas is asked to track down who’s behind a series of thefts of marijuana shipments. Lucas is a likeable protagonist, and the book contained none of the (c’mon, really?) believability-stretching plots of many books in this genre.
It was a fun read, but I gave it only three stars because it doesn’t really do anything new, either. In his drive to be current with the tastes of the young black characters, Pelecanos includes too many recitations of long lists of music groups’ names that I, alas, have never heard of, so can’t relate to. A bit of overkill there. Perhaps the people who know all those groups are part of Pelecanos’s target audience.