George P. Pelecanos is the author of five other novels: The Big Blowdown, Nick's Trip, Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go, A Firing Offense, and Shoedog. He lives in Washington, D.C.
Cheech and Chong meet Pulp Fiction in a retro novel of Seventies drug culture. Small-time pot dealer Dimitri Karras and record-store owner Marcus Clay stumble into the wrong warehouse looking for weed and pocket some hot cash in the bargain. They are pursued by a gang of trigger-crazed lowlifes more concerned with savoring the taste of Kools and death than recovering their money. Dimitri slowly begins to realize that he's wasted many years dealing to kids and getting high. He proves his desire for redemption to Marcus by participating in a rooftop showdown with the Wilton Cooper gang. Few other characters here show potential for growth or transformation, but Pelecanos (The Big Blowdown, LJ 4/15/96) has an ear for the jivey talk of the era. This noir thriller may find a limited audience with baby boomers or fans of the author's well-received Nick Stefanos series.‘Susan A. Zappia, Maricopa Cty. Lib. Dist., Phoenix
Taking its name from a fictional blaxploitation film attended by many of its characters, the latest from acclaimed D.C, noir writer. Pelecano centers on an interracial friendship, circa 1976, between a Greek proto-slacker, the pot-dealing Dimitri Karras, and his partner in crime, a black Vietnam veteran and record store-owner named Marcus Clay. Far more sympathetic (and less criminal) than your run-of-the-mill pulp heroes, these two find themselves embroiled in this blood-soaked story largely by accident after they walk into the midst of a high-tension drug deal and leave with a new set of very dangerous enemies. The baddest of the baddies is Wilton Cooper, a character clearly meant to evoke a blaxploitation hero, the difference being that Cooper turns out to be a full-blown psycho in cool cat's clothing. Packed as the novel is with Pelecanos's usual, meticulous details of pop life in middle- and working-class Washington, comparisons to Pulp Fiction are inevitable. But Pelecanos is more than merely slick; there's heart behind the Tarantino-esque ephemera, and these details carry with them the sadness of a city teetering on the brink of its last great decline into violence and segregation. The narrative itself is deft if unsurprising, and the dialogue is unfailingly true to the lives it lays bare. In fact, many of the novel's most engaging scenes occur when Pelecanos focuses instead on Dimitri's character, his complex friendship with Marcus and the city that lies so convincingly behind them. (Aug.)