I've read several of George Pelecanos' novels. I remember liking THE SWEET FOREVER a lot.
Right as Rain and Hell to Pay have the same characters, white ex-cop Terry Quinn and black p.i. Derek Strange.I remember them as pretty good.I think there are a couple more with teh same characters I haven't read.Jeff M.
I started with THE BIG BLOWDOWN. Good book. Sentimental fave is KING SUCKERMAN. The whole DC Quartet is good.
I think that 'Drama City' is his best and it's almost a companion piece to The Wire: Season 3 (the charecter Cutty was made up of the same research.)I also like 'The Night Gardner' (another stand alone) a lot and the Derek Strange Trilogy.
The Derek Strange stories are a trilogy with book 2 leading directly into book 3. That said, I think the best Derek Strange book is Hard Revolution, set in 1968 during the DC riots. And I concur with Gordon re: Drama City, perhaps my favorite.
I wonder if part of it hinges on whether you prefer standalones or series?
I don't have a preference. I read the first Derek Strange novel (Right as Rain) right after I "discovered" Dennis Lehane with Mystic River. Didn't know it was a series. They are quick reads and all three are, in some ways, one giant story. When it comes to my reading habits, I broke a few rules this year. If I approached a series, I'd always go back and start with Book #1, even if the current book was #13. Ditto with TV (starting watching Mad Men this year without having seen seasons 1-3). I realized that I'd never catch up if I always started with book #1 b/c there was so much else out there to read. So, my new "rule": read what I want, no matter the order of a series.That said, you could read his excellent stand-alone Drama City and get a sense of GP's writing. You could read the stand-alone Hard Revolution and enjoy the story. The ending points back to the trilogy, but it's still a good ending, no matter what. Have to say that his latest, The Way Home, wasn't my favorite.So, read the blurbs on all the GP books and pick the one that interests you most.
Have only read 'The Night Gardener' and 'The Way Home'. I like them both, but I was told some of his earlier books are superb, so I'm also interested in finding out what suggestions you get.
Since I know I will no longer finish a series, I guess I am more prone to read standalones. Although there are series and there are series. Some are very dependent on the reader knowing what went before and others, not so much. Earlier series writers seemed to only be a series in that the same detective was in each of them. Now like TV we have these arcs from book to book more often. Backstory that gives richness to the book but also makes it hard to start in the middle.
You really can't go wrong with Pelecanos--they're all good. I prefer the DC Quartet and the Strange/Quinn series to the standalones in general. But "The Night Gardener" is as good as any of his series novels.
Good post, Patti. I'm in the dark on Pelecanos too.
Patti, I wrote about his latest book, THE WAY HOME, on my blog. It is terrific -- a standalone. http://www.pulpserenade.com/2009/06/way-home-by-george-pelecanos-little.html
Patti, please see the review I sent you. I was unhappy with the book I tried, and won't be reading any more of his stuff.
I vote for HARD REVOLUTION as Pelecanos' best book, and a good place to start, though my own favorite is the flawed but intense DOWN BY THE RIVER WHERE THE DEAD MEN GO.
I finished THE NIGHT GARDENER a couple of weeks ago and thought it was the best of the half dozen Pelecanos books I've read. KING SUCKERMAN also stands out in my mind.
Only read "The Night Gardener". Found it kind of boring. Sounds like I'm in the minority though.
I'd pretty much echo Neil! But Drama City was one that I read after a break from him of about six years and it was well tasty too.
I prefer his earlier books to the books he's been writing since he became well known. King Suckerman Shoedog, Sweet Forever, Nick's Trip. Try the old ones first.
Thanks so much. I will see which one my favorite used bookstore has.
I'd also go for the Night Gardener, I think, though Shoedog is a lot of fun for a gentle start. I haven't read any I didn't like if it helps.
Of the novels, I've read only two, so far, and THE NIGHT GARDENER was disappointing, though not very much so, after KING SUCKERMAN.
Suckerman's the one I will look for then.
Definitely THE BIG BLOWDOWN to start.
Steve-where have you been?
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