Reading George Pelecanos is like reading The Wire (as in – pretty damn good) and it’s no coincidence since he’s responsible for 8 Wire episodes, including one of my favorites ever. To be fair, this is the reason I got the book in the first place, so I’m happy to say it wasn’t a bad choice. It’s a crime novel, so the storyline in itself is fairly straightforward (ex-con Lorenzo Brown tries to clean up his act with the help of PO Rachel Lopez, but ends up getting caught between his old life and his new), but the strength of the book is in its characters. They’re not just pawns used to move things along, they all have a past, they all have their motivations (more or less obvious) and they’re all working towards something (and running away, too) – and you can sense all that with every spoken word. And after 200 pages worth of setup the bloody ending doesn’t exactly come as a surprise, but, unlike The Wire’s propensity towards hopelessness, Pelecanos seems to believe that some make it through, that it works if you work it.
Apparently, the research for this book was at the basis for Cutty , so the similarities between him and Lorenzo are a logical result. And I think I’ve said this before, but Cutty always felt out-of-place to me in the Wire-verse; but since this book is centered on Lorenzo, there is no longer any discrepancy between him and…everyone else, really; so his story of redemption becomes more real, more believable.
Aside from this, there were many other moments when I had Wire flashbacks: Michael Butler has a bit of Michael Lee in him; Rico’s wearing, at one point, the long overcoat & shotgun that are the trademarks of Omar Little (though this is where the similarities between the two stop; if anything, Rico’s more like Snoop); entire stretches of dialogue and even ‘It’s all in the game’.
Mr. Pelecanos has a new book out now – The Cut – so here’s an interview with a TV critic & long-standing Wire fan.