Review: Pelecanos’s Hell to Pay

Hell to Pay: A Derek Strange Novel (Derek Strange Novels)
George Pelecanos

The second book in Pelecanos’s series about P.I. Derek Strange and his sidekick Terry Quinn. Probably even better than the first, this one has less silly shoot ‘em up scenes and more of the grime that is crime in South East D.C. as well as more development of the deeply troubled Quinn and the only slightly more together Strange.

As I’ve written many times before, crime novels are about crime like playboy is about the articles. It needs to be there to be, but it isn’t the part that matters. Crime novels are really about two things — the protagonist and place. Pelecanos does a great job with both, creating believable fucked up barely holding it together cops and showing us D.C. as it is – segregated, largely poor, mostly black, undemocratic, and violent. The writing here is so good you can see why Pelecanos was pulled into the David Simon writing machine for both the Wire and Treme.

Recommended for the enthusiast.

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