Saturday, February 25, 2012

Another Gem from George Pelecanos

This is another excellent novel from George Pelecanos who demonstrates once again that he knows the seamier side of Washington, D.C. inside and out and can portray it better than anyone else. Even better are the characters who populate this novel--some good, some bad, some still making up their minds, but virtually all of them struggling in one way or another.

The main protagonist, Lorenzo Brown, once ran with a rough gang headed by his best boyhood friend. But after serving eight years in prison on a drug charge, Lorenzo is back on the street, determined to stay on the straight and narrow and make a new life for himself. He finds a job as a "dog man," working for the Humane Society, attempting to rescue mistreated dogs.

Lorenzo must report periodically to his parole officer, an attractive but troubled woman named Rachel Lopez. By day, Rachel is very conscientious and does her job well. But by night, she drinks too much and picks up strangers in hotel bars for rough sex. Outside of their scheduled sessions, Lorenzo and Rachel also occasionally run into each other at a mid-day meeting of a Narcotics Anonymous chapter.

Lorenzo is doing well, content in his humble job and steering clear of his former bad associates, when a simple mistake by a stupid gang banger threatens to set off a conflict between two of D.C.'s major drug lords, one of whom is still Lorenzo's friend. The incident threatens both Lorenzo and Rachel and forces Lorenzo to make an agonizing choice.

These characters are beautifully drawn and their story pulls you in from the first page. These are real people in a setting that is totally believable and flawed or not, you can't help but sympathize with virtually all of them. Certainly you won't soon forget them.

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