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Hard Revolution (Derek Strange & Terry Quinn #4)

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,834 Ratings  ·  127 Reviews
In this prequel to the two highly successful Derek Strange novels, George P. Pelecanos illuminates his early life as a black police officer in Washington in 1968.
Paperback, 376 pages
Published 2005 by Orion (first published January 1st 2004)
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15th out of 30 books — 67 voters
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Best Hardboiled PI & Noir
191st out of 519 books — 645 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,995)
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Dan Schwent
Jul 28, 2013 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, pelecanos
The Strange brothers grow up in Washington DC in the 1950's and 60's and take radically different paths. Derek becomes a cop while Dennis doesn't become much of anything. Can Dennis avoid ending up in jail for running with the wrong crowd? Can Derek keep his personal feelings out of his police work?

The fourth Derek Strange tale is a story from Derek's youth, showing what decisions he made that made him a bad ass private detective in the present day. Pelecanos uses historical events and the music
...more
Melissa
Jul 09, 2014 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strange & Stefanos are currently engaging in fisticuffs in my heart in order to determine who will be the number one man in my life. I love Derek Strange, but I didn't realize just how deeply those feelings ran until I met the young, police officer version of him. So, swoon! I didn't quite twig to the whole Alvin Jones connection & what that all meant, so it was a pleasant surprise to meet baby Granville Oliver, even though I didn't particularly care for the ending of Hell To Pay.
Josh
Oct 16, 2012 Josh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, read_2012
Similar in style and substance to Pelecanos’ penultimate DC Quartet, ‘Hard Revolution’ is the forth novel to feature Derek Strange. Rather than a follow-up to the last Strange and Quinn PI novel ‘Soul Circus’, ‘Hard Revolution’ takes us back to a younger Derek growing up in the late 50’s and then on to his career as a police officer timed around the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968.

The echoes of a revolution are omnipresent, racial vilification bears a similar resemblance to Ed Lacy’
...more
Adam
Feb 02, 2010 Adam rated it it was amazing

Hard Revolution works as a prequel for Pelecanos’s Quinn-Strange books and as an important piece in his interwoven portrait of Washington D.C. that he has painted via the medium of serial fiction. The ’68 riots and their influence on the city has long been a motif in his work. This moment of rage and self destruction that has cast a decades long shadow on the black working class and their neighborhoods. Pelecanos uses a stripped down reporter style delivery (even more than usual) that still mana
...more
Larry Bassett
If you know popular (R&R, R&B, Motown) music, George Pelecanos will tell you what year it is by the tunes and the bands and other identifying details. Part I of Hard Revolution opens in the spring of 1959. I am not one who knows the music so the date on the lead page helps me out. You can just enjoy knowing that what you read in the next 71 pages is really taking you back to 1959 in metro DC. We meet Derek Strange as a teenager. We will get to know him better later in this book and in se ...more
Ice
May 12, 2010 Ice rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller, favorites
This fourth book in the Derek Strange cycle (Right as Rain, Hell to Pay, and Soul Circus precede it), finally takes longtime readers of Pelecanos to an event we've been waiting for him to deal with: Washington, D.C.'s 1968 riots. I wasn't even born until a few years after the riots, but growing up in D.C., it was hard to miss the physical and psychic scars they left on the city. Once again Pelecanos brilliantly uses the pulp crime novel as a vehicle for his sociocultural history of Washington, D ...more
Dan
Aug 21, 2009 Dan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009
my favorite of the derek strange novels by far, and the one where pelecanos pulls everything together into something really rich and surprising. truth be told, this is the first of the four novels i've read of his that approaches the scope of the wire (for which he was a screenwriter).

the story here cuts back to the late sixties, when strange was a rookie cop. as one part of an ensemble cast, strange's world opens up into a mini-universe, and the sense of what's to come (both in terms of the cha
...more
Eric
Mar 27, 2011 Eric added it
Pelecanos was a writer/producer for best television show ever "The Wire," and most articles and reviews I've read about him stress how much more "literary" his crime novels are than his contemporaries'. I'll have to take the word of his books' blurbs for it that he's one of the best American crime novelists, but even though the two books I read by him were entertaining, they still have the same lack of subtlety and cliche (or "archetypical") characters and plots that make genre fiction genre fic ...more
Jon
Sep 07, 2015 Jon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When is an historical novel not an historical novel? How about when it uses historical events as the backdrop, instead of the driver, of stories of everyday lives?

In Hard Revolution, the backdrop is the days and weeks in Washington, DC just before and after Martin Luther King’s assassination in 1968. Derek Strange, Frank Vaughn, their friends, families, work mates, and adversaries, white and black, native-born and immigrant, go about their daily lives in the multifaceted ferment of late 60s DC
...more
Donna
Aug 10, 2014 Donna rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, history
If you want a crime thriller with a fast plot, lots of action and suspense, then this is not the novel for you. I rated it 3 for those reasons.

But before you read my review, I would encourage you to read reviews by others who consider this book excellent... many more people seem to like this book than dislike it. I do not want my viewpoint to stop you from reading a book that you might enjoy.

But if you want to read a book that brings to life the culture, attitudes and drama of civil rights in th
...more
Brian Grover
I haven't read any of the others, but this is a "prequel" to a series of books Pelecanos has written about a DC cop named Derek Strange. This sets the table with some events in the late '50s when strange is just a kid in danger of falling in with a bad crowed, then jumps forward to 1968, when he's a rookie cop. Over the course of a week his ne'er do well brother is murdered, then MLK is assassinated and Strange has to deal with a city erupting in riot as he hunts his brother's killer.

Pelecanos i
...more
Tobey
Dec 30, 2007 Tobey rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
One minute I was learning who George Pelecanos was and the next I had a copy of this book in my hand. This book gives the background story of Derek Strange, one of Pelecanos' reoccuring characters. I read it first, and now I am excited to read more and see how the character was developed before this backstory was released.

Robert Fegley
Jun 29, 2007 Robert Fegley rated it liked it
Good, but not his best effort.
David
Aug 05, 2008 David rated it it was amazing
excellent story
John Devlin
Feb 12, 2016 John Devlin rated it liked it
(3.7) An excellent take on growing up black in the 50's and 60's and trying to navigate the corridors of conscience and the crimes of the City.
Specifically, a solid crime novel that gives as much in history than in histrionics. Reminiscent of Walter Moseley's EZ Rawlin's, Pelecanos paints a striking picture of DC at the time of King riots, while never eschewing the stark ambivalence of both his white and black characters and their fight to be true to who they are both in color and conscience.
Awwwtrouble
May 15, 2015 Awwwtrouble rated it really liked it
My book club decided to read this book based on an interview Pelicans did in the Washington City Paper in January 2015 where he said this was the book he had always wanted to write, with the backdrop of the 1968 riots. Reading it after the riots in Baltimore made it even more relevant. So hard to imagine 12,000 buildings burning in DC, how long and convoluted recovery has been, and what these neighborhoods are like today. I've done some googling and reading about his other books, and I think I m ...more
Matt Allen
Mar 26, 2013 Matt Allen rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013-reads
The final novel in Pelecanos's Strange/Quinn quartet is presented as a prequel. Like the timeline of the fourth related to the first three, I found Hard Revolution a step back.

I appreciate what Pelecanos tried to do. Something very macro--a snapshot of a real time and culture told through the micro focus of fictional heroes and villains. Very Dennis Lehane and The Given Day. Both books had a bit of distance in the narrative that didn't really work for me.

With a plot that's long to unfold, it's
...more
Guy
Jan 29, 2008 Guy rated it it was amazing
Uitgelezen: Hard Revolution (2004) van Amerikaanse misdaadschrijver George Pelecanos, wiens naam meer en meer lijkt op te duiken, zowel in binnen- als buitenland. En terecht, want deze schrijver, die in 1992 (op z’n vijfendertigste) debuteerde, is intussen uitgegroeid tot een van m’n favoriete misdaadschrijvers (samen met James Ellroy en Michael Connelly). Pelecanos is niet enkel een romanschrijver, maar ook essayist, script writer (hij schreef enkele episodes voor de geweldige HBO-serie The Wir ...more
Trena
Sep 28, 2010 Trena rated it did not like it
Wow. This is some horrible writing.

One of my book clubs wanted to read a local author so we decided to give this guy a shot. I will give him that he did his research. He clearly went down to the library and copied down all the headlines from the Washington Post and Life magazine for the relevant time periods. Then he shuffled those headlines with a map and filled in the spaces with a few words.

The first section introduces a cast of thousands, each with no character development because there isn
...more
Lisa H.
Nov 24, 2012 Lisa H. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every time I pick up a George Pelecanos book, I have to convince myself to get it: his stories just don't seem to translate very well to compelling book-jacket blurbs. And every time, I am so glad I did.

What Pelecanos does so beautifully is to portray the often-boring everyday routines of police officers and petty criminals who may or may not have any direct interaction, interposing their stories as the characters cross paths at seemingly random points, until he pulls those threads in to a centr
...more
Elaine
Feb 03, 2013 Elaine rated it really liked it
My boyfriend read “Hard Revolution” first. It was one of his $1.99 National Liquidator specials. He really didn’t like it all that much, but he kept insisting that I would. The author, George Pelecanos was a writer for “The Wire” (one of my all-time favorite series). So for me, that was reason enough to give his book a try.

The story takes place in Washington, DC from the 1950’s though the 60’s. Its main focus is on the racial tension of that era. The cast of characters, both black and white are
...more
Tyler Collison
Oct 21, 2012 Tyler Collison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
George Pelecanos is often categorized as a crime writer. The inciting incidents in his novels are often crimes, and his protagonists are almost always motivated by justice (or revenge, but what's the difference?), but to call Pelecanos a "crime writer" is to pigeonhole him unfairly. In Hard Revolution he follows some cops around, but more than anything this novel is an emblem of a decade of civil unrest—that of MLK-era Washington, D.C.

In Revolution, Pelecanos follows factions of the ongoing raci
...more
Simon
Apr 02, 2012 Simon rated it really liked it
Hard Revolution By George Pelecanos

If you've never read any George Pelecanos this
prequel would be a good place to start, as
although it wasn't his first book it takes you
right back to the roots of Derek Strange and
several other regular Pelecanos characters, back
in the 60's this book which is set a few weeks
prior to the murder of Martin Luther king and in
the ensuing riots in Washington really sets up
the other novels where George pelecanos uses
many of the core caracters such as Nick Stefa
...more
Sarah O.
Nov 12, 2010 Sarah O. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I totally loved the atmosphere and characters of this book. I think Pelecanos does a fine job of summarizing the social mood at the time. The book takes place in 1969 and Derek Strange is just starting out in the Washington D.C. police force during a time of increased racial tension. The action of the book takes place during the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Washington D.C. riots that ensued. Strange has problems of his own, though, in investigating the hit-and-run murder ...more
Elizabeth
Feb 09, 2015 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Not much plot, but a vividly drawn picture of people, black and white, living and working in DC just before Martin Luther King's assassination and the riots that burned U street. You know that their lives are going to intersect, and you know it's going to be bad news, but the language pulls you on.

I'd need to check the order that Pelecanos' books were written to be sure, but I'd guess this was written after the books that take place chronologically later with the same characters.
Iain
Jan 26, 2015 Iain rated it really liked it
If you’re interested in reading a novel that tells you how tall and heavy each of the male characters is, what music people listened to in Washington DC in the 1960s, and what kind of engines different cars have, this is your book. It’s also great on race relations in DC, and an eminently readable thriller. It deals with the early years in the life of Derek Strange, the character who appears as a black PI in a group of earlier novels by Pelecanos.
Sarah
Feb 17, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What really makes this book special is the backdrop of Washington D.C. in the late-1960's and all the upheaval that was going on at this time. One of the characters explains that no revolution is ever easy, and the results of this time are being seen in today's current environment. I loved the descriptions of the characters through the kind of music they liked and listened to and why. It was a very unique way to get to know them, but one should be familiar with the music and artists in order to ...more
Tim W
Feb 10, 2008 Tim W rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid, ambitious police procedural, following rookie black police officer Derek Strange. Racial tension in 1960s D.C. provides the backdrop. Strange is a compelling protagonist because his race and profession are in constant tension.

This one gives Pelecanos (who does some writing for the Wire now) a chance to survey the D.C. landscape before the 1968 MLK riots changed everything. You get to visit a nice cross-section of neighborhood streets, corner stores, biker bars, filling stations, and diner
...more
Ben Hess
Jun 21, 2014 Ben Hess rated it it was ok
This was an audiobook experience which is part of the problem. I think the actor did a fine job but the recording levels / sound mix wasn't engineered properly, and I nearly blew speakers several times. But the much larger issue is that I nearly drowned in laborious, mundane description and exposition early on in the novel. I appreciate all of Pelecanos' research into late 60s Washington DC and but please take note - you don't need to include EVERY fact and detail in the first third of your nove ...more
Andrea
Aug 04, 2008 Andrea rated it really liked it
More than a crime novel, this book is really a study of race relations in the 1960's. It took me a while to get into the flow of the book and to keep the various characters straight, but it was definitely worth the effort. Pelecanos is a master at creating narrative tension; you know what's going to happen, you just don't know exactly how it's all going to unfold, and the joy of the book is sticking with it to find out. He does a great job capturing speech patterns and attitudes; I find myself c ...more
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George P. Pelecanos (born 1957 in Washington, D.C.) is an American author of detective fiction set primarily in the capital of the United States, Washington, D.C. He is also a film and television producer and a television writer. He has worked extensively on the HBO series The Wire. His novels use an ensemble cast of characters, following their exploits across several generations. While there are ...more
More about George Pelecanos...

Other Books in the Series

Derek Strange & Terry Quinn (5 books)
  • Right as Rain (Derek Strange and Terry Quinn #1)
  • Hell to Pay
  • Soul Circus (Derek Strange and Terry Quinn, #3)
  • What It Was

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