These weeks do seem to rush round, and it is time again for a contribution to the Crime Fiction Alphabet meme being hosted at Kerrie's Mysteries in Paradise.
We have reached the letter P for Pelecanos, George Pelecanos.
From author information in The Turnaround:
George Pelecanos was born in Washington, DC in 1957. He worked as a line cook, dishwasher, bartender, shoe salesman, electronics salesman, construction worker, and retail genera manager before publishing his first novel in 1992. He is the author of 15 [now 16 novels] set in and around Washington DC.
Pelecanos served as producer on several feature films, and is writer and producer on the acclaimed HBO series The Wire for which he was nominated for an Emmy.
I had not read any Pelecanos for several years, and had collected quite a number on my TBR pile so approaching the letter P seemed an ideal opportunity to pick up The Turnaround, and sample something by this writer.
It is a hot summer afternoon in 1972. Billy, Pete and Alex Pappas, three white teenagers drive a car into Heathrow Heights, an African American neighbourhood of Washington DC, to "raise a little hell." They throw a cherry pie towards a group of young African Americans, including the brothers James and Raymond Monroe and the scar-faced Charles Baker.
The pie glances off Charles as Billy shouts an abusive comment, including the n-word.
As the white boys attempt to drive off down the road they make a discovery.
"It's a turnaround," said Alex, as if in wonder.
"The hell it is, " said Billy. "It's a dead end."
They now have to drive back through a growing angry crowd of young men and the 'incident' that follows will be a defining moment in all their lives.
The Turnaround is a superb novel in which Pelecanos introduces us to the characters and their world, describes the 'incident', and then briskly moves us on thirty five years to gradually learn what has happened in the intervening years. The search for redemption and retribution clash as we are taken to an endgame that inevitably involves violence, has a twist in the tale, and also a search for the American dream.
"The best crew I've ever had. Look, you don't make this possible and neither do I. The help does. You gotta take care of 'em, John........... you've always got to take care of the help."
Some of the best advice ever given on running any business and you get it for free in a crime fiction thriller.
"What did you see in his eyes?"
"I saw good."
'Why, Raymond? Why would you seek him out?"
"I had to," said Monroe.
This is a brilliant, thought provoking novel and I shall be reading more George Pelecanos over the next few months. No wonder The Wire was so good.