The Man Who Came Uptown
Michael Hudson spends the long days in prison devouring books given to him by the prison's librarian, a young woman named Anna who develops a soft spot for her best student. Anna keeps passing Michael books until one day he disappears, suddenly released after a private detective manipulated a witness in Michael's trial.
The Martini Shot
Short stories and a novella from one of crime fiction's most revered writers.
Whether they're cops or conmen, savage killers or creative types, gangsters or God-fearing citizens, George Pelecanos' characters are always engaged in a fight for their lives. They fight to advance or simply to survive; they fight against odds, against enemies, even against themselves. In this, his first collection of stories, the acclaimed novelist introduces readers to a vivid and eclectic cast of combatants.
A seasoned claims investigator tracks a supposedly dead man from Miami to Brazil, only to be thrown off his game by a kid from the local slum. An aging loser takes a last stab at respectability by becoming a police informant. A Greek-American couple adopts an interracial trio of sons and then struggles to keep their family together, giving us a stirring bit of background on one of Pelecanos' most beloved protagonists, Spero Lucas. In the title novella - which takes its name from Hollywood slang for the last shot of the day, the one that comes before the liquor shots begin - we go behind the scenes of a television cop show, where a writer gets caught up in a drama more real than anything he could have conjured for a script.
By turns heartbreaking and humane, brutal and funny, these finely constructed tales expose the violence and striving beneath the surface of any city and within any human heart. Tough, sexy, fast-paced, and crackling with energy, The Martini Shot is Pelecanos at his very best.
Every man has his dark side...Spero Lucas confronts his own in the most explosive thriller yet from one of America's best-loved crime writers.
The job seems simple enough: retrieve the valuable painting--"The Double"--Grace Kinkaid's ex-boyfriend stole from her. It's the sort of thing Spero Lucas specializes in: finding what's missing, and doing it quietly. But Grace wants more. She wants Lucas to find the man who humiliated her--a violent career criminal with a small gang of brutal thugs at his beck and call.
Lucas is a man who knows how to get what he wants, whether it's a thief on the run--or a married woman. In the midst of a steamy, passionate love affair that he knows can't last, in pursuit of a dangerous man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, Lucas is forced to decide what kind of man he is--and how far he'll go to get what he wants.
What It Was
Washington, D.C., 1972. Derek Strange has left the police department and set up shop as a private investigator. His former partner, Frank "Hound Dog" Vaughn, is still on the force. When a young woman comes to Strange asking for his help recovering a cheap ring she claims has sentimental value, the case leads him onto Vaughn's turf, where a local drug addict's been murdered, shot point-blank in his apartment. Soon both men are on the trail of a ruthless killer: Red Fury, so called for his looks and the car his girlfriend drives, but a name that fits his personality all too well. Red Fury doesn't have a retirement plan, as Vaughn points out - he doesn't care who he has to cross, or kill, to get what he wants. As the violence escalates and the stakes get higher, Strange and Vaughn know the only way to catch their man is to do it their own way.
Rich with details of place and time - the cars, the music, the clothes - and fueled by non-stop action, this is Pelecanos writing in the hard-boiled noir style that won him his earliest fans and placed him firmly in the ranks of the top crime writers in America.
Spero Lucas has a new line of work. Since he returned home to Washington, D.C. after serving in Iraq, he has been doing special investigations for a defense attorney. He's good at it, and he has carved out a niche: recovering stolen property, no questions asked. His cut is forty percent.
A high-profile crime boss who has heard of Lucas's specialty hires him to find out who has been stealing from his operation. It's the biggest job Spero has ever been offered, and he quickly gets a sense of what's going on. But before he can close in on what's been taken, he tangles with a world of men whose amorality and violence leave him reeling. Is any cut worth your family, your lover, your life?
The first in a series of thrillers featuring Spero Lucas, The Cut is the latest confirmation of why George Pelecanos is "perhaps America's greatest living crime writer." (Stephen King)
The Way Home
Christopher Flynn is trying to get it right. After years of trouble and rebellion that enraged his father and nearly cost him his life, he has a steady job in his father's company, he's seriously dating a woman he respects, and, aside from the distrust that lingers in his father's eyes, his mistakes are firmly in the past.
One day on the job, Chris and his partner come across a temptation almost too big to resist. Chris does the right thing, but old habits and instincts rise to the surface, threatening this new-found stability with sudden treachery and violence. With his father and his most trusted friends, he takes one last chance to blast past the demons trying to pull him back.
Like Richard Price or William Kennedy, Pelecanos pushes his characters to the extremes, their redemption that much sweeter because it is so hard fought. Pelecanos has long been celebrated for his unerring ability to portray the conflicts men feel as they search and struggle for power and love in a world that is often harsh and unforgiving but can ultimately be filled with beauty.
On a hot summer afternoon in 1972, three teenagers drove into an unfamiliar neighborhood and six lives were altered forever.
Thirty five years later, one survivor of that day reaches out to another, opening a door that could lead to salvation. But another survivor is now out of prison, looking for reparation in any form he can find it.
THE TURNAROUND takes us on a journey from the rock-and-soul streets of the '70s to the changing neighborhoods of D.C. today, from the diners and auto garages of the city to the inside of Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital, where wounded men and women have returned to the world in a time of war. A novel of fathers and sons, wives and husbands, loss, victory and violent redemption, THE TURNAROUND is another compelling, highly charged novel from George Pelecanos, "the best crime novelist in America." -Oregonian
The Night Gardener
Gus Ramone is "good police," a former Internal Affairs investigator now working homicide for the city's Violent Crime branch. His new case involves the death of a local teenager named Asa whose body has been found in a local community garden.The murder unearths intense memories of a case Ramone worked as a patrol cop twenty years earlier, when he and his partner, Dan "Doc" Holiday, assisted a legendary detective named T. C. Cook. The series of murders, all involving local teenage victims, was never solved. In the years since, Holiday has left the force under a cloud of morals charges, and now finds work as a bodyguard and driver. Cook has retired, but he has never stopped agonizing about the "Night Gardener" killings.The new case draws the three men together on a grim mission to finish the work that has haunted them for years. All the love, regret, and anger that once burned between them comes rushing back, and old ghosts walk once more as the men try to lay to rest the monster who has stalked their dreams. Bigger and even more unstoppable than his previous thrillers, George Pelecanos achieves in THE NIGHT GARDENER what his brilliant career has been building toward: a novel that is a perfect union of suspense, character, and unstoppable fate.
Lorenzo Brown loves his work. In his job as an officer for the Humane Society, he cruises the city streets, looking for dogs that are being mistreated - underfed, unclean, trained to kill. He takes pride in making their lives better. And that pride helps Lorenzo resist the pull of easier money doing the kind of work that got him a recent prison bid. Rachel Lopez loves her work, too. By day she is a parole officer, helping people - Lorenzo Brown among them - along a path to responsibility and advancement. At night she heads for the city's hotel bars, where she can always find a man who will let her act out her damage. She loses herself in sex and drink and more. But Rachel's nights are taking a toll on her days. Lorenzo knows the signs. The trouble is, he truly needs her right now. There's an eruption coming in the streets he left behind, the kind of territorial war that takes down everyone even near it. Lorenzo needs every shred of support he can get to keep from being sucked back into that battleground. He reaches out to Rachel - but she may be too far gone to help either of them. Writing with the grace and force that have earned him praise as "the poet laureate of the crime world," George Pelecanos has created a novel about two scarred and fallible people who must navigate one of life's most brutal passages. It is an unforgettable, moving, even shocking story that will leave no reader unchanged.
In this epic showdown from "one of the best crime novelists alive" (Dennis Lehane), police officer Derek Strange hunts his brother's killer through a city erupting with rage.
Bleak, gritty and moving, Soul Circus superbly brings to life a devastating story of life and death in Washington's black ghettos.
Private Investigator Derek Strange and his partner, Terry Quinn, are running a detective business in the seedy underbelly of Washington, DC when they are approached by a young man asking them to find his girlfriend who has gone missing. And so Strange and Quinn find her.
Just another day? Not quite. In the grimy underworld inhabited by Strange, nothing is that simple. For Strange and Quinn's efforts have led to a young mother being brutally murdered--a devastating discovery that causes them both to question the morality by which they live. And yet at the same time they need to continue the search for another missing girl, a teenage runaway who shows up in a porn video. And who hasn't been seen since.
Step by step, Strange and his partner are drawn into the darkness, confronting gunrunners, crime lords, drug dealers, and ordinary people caught up in the ruthless violence of the business. Soul Circus is a heart-stopping thriller that could only have been written by George Pelecanos, the writer who "has gone from cult favorite to acknowledged master" (Booklist).
Hell to Pay
Derek Strange and Terry Quinn, the team of private investigators who made their stunning debut in Right As Rain, are hired to find a 14-year-old white girl from the suburbs who's run away from home and is now working as a prostitute. The two ex-cops think they know D.C.'s dangers, but nothing in their experience has prepared them for Worldwide Wilson, the pimp whose territory they're intruding upon.
Combining inimitable neighborhood flavor, action scenes that rank among the best in fiction, and a clear-eyed view of morality in a world with few rules, "Hell to Pay" is another Pelecanos masterpiece for his ever-expanding audience to savor.
Right as Rain
WASHINGTON POST BESTSELLER
"Those in the know read Pelecanos." - Michael Connelly, #1 bestselling author of the Harry Bosch and Lincoln Lawyer series
Derek Strange is black and successful. Terry Quinn is white and barely holding on. Now Strange has been hired to investigate a police shooting in which Quinn played a major role. For Strange, a savvy and careful man, the investigation goes against his style and instinct. For Terry Quinn, Strange's questions are a chance to absolve his conscience and shake out a little truth. But in a city that lives in the shadow of a nation's dream, neither man can foresee the dirty little war that will break out around them...or how deadly being right can be.
The crime novels of George Pelecanos are unrivaled for their authenticity, edginess, and humanity. With Washington, D.C.-the city, not the capital-as his backdrop, Pelecanos explores a violent landscape of drugs and danger, loyalty and love.
Shame the Devil
Several restaurant workers are murdered by a robber, whose brother is killed by police during the chaotic event. As everyone struggles to heal after the incident, the gunman is determined to kill everyone involved in his brother's death.
The Sweet Forever
One of the 1990s' rising stars of crime fiction delivers a bold, brilliant tale of mystery, revenge, and survival in the 1980s, when cocaine and money ruled the city streets and even the good guys wanted a piece of the action.
From "the poet laureate of the D.C. crime world" ("Esquire") comes this powerful early novel, now available in paperback for the first time--the noirish story of how a Washington, D.C., liquor store heist shows a drifter named Constantine what it means to be a shoedog. Martin's Press.
Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go
"You already been a punk. Least you can do is go out like a man." Then a dull popping sound and a quiet splash.
In his third appearance in George Pelecanos's acclaimed series, Nick Stefanos has been spending too much time with bad women and bad booze. Which is why he wakes up one blurry morning on the banks of the Anacostia River, hungover and miserable--and now a witness to a murder. With the help of a partner as straight-arrow as Nick is bent, Nick decides to track down the killer, an investigation that leads them through the roughest part of the nation's capital, and into the blackest parts of the human soul.
In the summer of 1976, the nation's capital is gearing up for the Bicentennial. Captain Beefheart's on the eight-track, and the hot new film "King Suckerman" has everyone talking. Two knockaround guys named Clay and Karras are out looking for trouble when they stumble onto a drug deal gone bad and end up with a pile of money that isn't theirs. When the well-armed dealer starts spilling blood to get to the cash, Clay and Karras must take a stand, go straight, and get justice--or maybe just sweet revenge.
Nick Stefanos has given up his job in sales to tend bar at the Spot, where drinks and women are both a bit too easily available, and the routine is starting to feel as dead-end as his last gig. But things are about to change. First, his high-school friend Billy Goodrich asks him to find his wife April, who he says left him for small-time crime boss Joey DiGeordano. In fact, April has taken off with hog farmer/bondage freak Tommy Crane and, it turns out, with $200,000 of DiGeordano family money. There are powerful enemies on her trail -- and now on Nick's trail, too.
A Firing Offense
As the advertising director of Nutty Nathan's, Nick Stefanos knows all the tricks of the electronics business. Blow-out sales and shady deals were his life. When one of the stockboys disappears, it's not news: just another metalhead who went off chasing some dream of big money and easy living. But the kid reminded Nick of himself twelve years ago: an angry punk hooked on speed metal and the fast life. So when the boy's grandfather begs Nick to find the kid, Nick says he'll try. A Firing Offense, Nick Stefanos' debut, shows why, as Barry Gifford puts it, "To miss out on Pelecanos would be criminal."