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The Sweet Forever (D.C. Quartet #3)

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  1,190 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
It's 1986 and Washington DC is being torn apart by the cocaine trade. The Mayor is too busy chasing coke and hookers to care, and the police force is manned by corrupt rednecks like Richard 'King' Tutt. Down in the neighborhoods, black children are shooting each other over nickel bags and the outside world just doesn't care.
Paperback, 298 pages
Published 2000 by Serpent's Tail (first published 1998)
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Homicide by David SimonMystic River by Dennis LehaneThe Corner by David SimonClockers by Richard PriceShutter Island by Dennis Lehane
Great books by writers of hbo's the wire
13th out of 30 books — 67 voters
The Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell HammettThe Long Goodbye by Raymond ChandlerFarewell, My Lovely by Raymond ChandlerThe Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
Best Hardboiled PI & Noir
136th out of 531 books — 661 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,827)
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Dan Schwent
A drug runner's car crashes outside of Marcus Clay's record store and someone steals a bag of money out of the back of the car as it burns. Will the stolen bag of money destroy all that Marcus Clay has worked to build?

The third book in George Peleanos' DC Quartet catches up with Dimitri Karras and Marcus Clay in the 1980s, years after the events of King Suckerman. Marcus now owns a chain of record stores and Dimitri owns an impressive cocaine habit. Complicating matters are a pair of crooked cop
James Thane
Feb 13, 2014 James Thane rated it really liked it
This is another great novel from George Pelecanos which captures brilliantly the disintegration of Washington, D.C., a city that Pelecanos obviously knows very well and loves even more. The book is set in March, 1986. The NCAA tourney seems to be playing on virtually every television set in town and on the streets of D.C. the big game is drugs, particularly the crack cocaine epidemic that seems to blanket much of the city.

The story contains a great cast of characters, many of whom have appeared
Larry Bassett
Jun 10, 2011 Larry Bassett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, crime
The first George Pelecanos book was published in 1992. The Sweet Forever, out in 1998, is his seventh and is the third in the DC quartet: The Big Blowdown, King Suckerman, The Sweet Forever, and Shame the Devil. He published books at the standard one each year clip beginning in 1992 but skipped 1999 before he returned to the annual book again in 2000.

This is the best Pelecanos book I have read in some time. I try to spot him in occasionally among my other reading kind of like a reward. I deserve
Jan 26, 2012 Tfitoby rated it liked it
Shelves: black-as-night
I've heard a lot of good things about Pelecanos and so I was eager to read some of his work. This one has a pretty good reputation, high ratings etc. so I expected big things. I don't think it managed to live up to the hype.

Perhaps if I hadn't seen The Wire the imagery used and the life portrayed within it's pages would have been that much more powerful, however as it is I felt that they took the ideas put forward in this book and went further, deeper and generally made the show pack more of a p
Jan 03, 2012 Ted rated it it was amazing
I rate Pelecanos novels as 4 and 5 star books not because they are great literature (though they are better than you might guess), but because they are such page-turners. Once I start to read one, it is seldom that I have not finished within 24-36 hours, and badly need some extra sleep.

If you have never read one, be forewarned that there is a good deal of course language, and usually some fairly course sex. They are raw, but I have always felt that this isn't done to gain attention from the read
The third book in the author's DC quartet and just as good as the previous two. The dark, gritty crime story was lightened a bit by all the pop culture references and I actually knew most of the music ones for once.
Sep 17, 2008 Paul rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
I read this book a couple of days, which is fast for me. It really drew me along, though i did skim the last, winding-down chapter. So why only two stars? There were a couple of stylistic things that started to bother me: mainly, the constant musical references. Hardly a page passed without the title of a song, and the name of the artist, being cited. Sometimes there'd be comments about the musicians, too. They felt arbitrary after a while, and like something extraneous intruding on the narrativ ...more
Matthew Shoe
Oct 19, 2015 Matthew Shoe rated it really liked it
The third book of the D. C. Quartet series, set in 1986, finds record store owner, Marcus Clay, and long-time friend, Dimitri Karras, in trouble again with local drug gangs. Clay plays the imperfect moral compass, while Karras continues a downward spiral: leading a tawdry life of sex and drugs, slowly killing himself coasting from one cocaine high to the next. By the end, Clay is given new hope and Karras reaches a major life decision point. Good story, with an earnest start, sympathetic charact ...more
Kurt Adam
Mar 28, 2014 Kurt Adam rated it really liked it
This is the first Pelecanos book I've read, although I'm a fan of his writing on The Wire. This is a really snappy crime novel, although it weirded me out a little. The book is set in DC during the mid-80s, which I'm really familiar with as a resident. All of the little details like the long hall leading to the 930 Club as well as the larger background details like the scuttlebutt around Marion Berry's drug use and the impending arrival of crack were strange to read because of how familiar they ...more
Sep 13, 2007 Elizabeth rated it liked it
George Pelecanos writes for The Wire and David Simon raves about him so he's been a 'to-read' for a while. I've finally read a few of his novels and this is my favorite. He writes about DC, the part that feels a lot like Baltimore, and this book, unlike his later ones, isn't strictly a crime novel. The backdrop of the book is the 1986 NCAA tournament - the year of Len Bias - and there are great thematic connections between the frenetic pace and unpredictability of the tournament, the 1980's coca ...more
Jul 10, 2013 grundoon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this in small chunks over nearly 3 weeks, and am convinced I would've enjoyed it considerably more had that not been the case - a good part due to the number of characters to keep track of, but also just the pacing itself. 3rd of the D.C. quartet (or 6th of the Nick Stefanos world, depending on one's view), again a slice of the street, corruption, good intentions... replete with local reference (seriously? name-checking a member of the Insect Surfers? that's cred right there). This one oc ...more
Michael Donnelly
Apr 14, 2014 Michael Donnelly rated it liked it
Period piece set in Washington DC in 1986. Unfortunately I endured this time personally, so the trip down memory lane wasn't so much fun. Pelecanos leans a little heavily on period detail - the NCAA basketball tournament, the music, and clothing for instance - perhaps too much.

The book is a morality play, and for that genre, does its work well. I won't go into detail as it would ruin the reader's experience, but the story works.

Dialogue here seemed problematic - and if I took out the ethnic tagl
May 11, 2016 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-noir
"Murphy shot Ray in the chest, the dumdum bullet flattening on impact & punching out a fist sized through his back. Ray staggered, yanked at the trigger guard of the gun, yanked the trigger instead. He screamed as the round entered his groin & blew his balls to chowder, the muzzle flame igniting his pubes. Foam spilled from Ray's mouth as he pirouetted to the floor." - Ouch! Bet that smarted.

I thought the L.A. Quartet by James Ellroy would be hard to beat. I thought the Red Riding Quart
Michael Martz
Jul 04, 2014 Michael Martz rated it it was amazing
It feels odd to review a novel 13 years after its publication, but as I'm working my way through George Pelecanos' extensive catalog, I guess it's bound to happen. This is yet another example of his ability to take an incident that is just a part of life in a major city, a traffic accident, and create a masterful story about what really happened and its repercussions.

I won't go into the plot, which I'm sure you can glean from the product description on this site. What I like to do when I review
Oct 19, 2014 TAB rated it liked it
Shelves: america, 1990s
I love a novel that is descriptive about its geography. I love it more when I live in that city but the setting is nearly 30 years ago when Washington, DC was a very different place. Getting to ride around with the cops, corner boys and citizens around U street was refreshing to see how far the city has come and also interesting to see what is still around. More than a few novels I've read this year like to choose fictional places to set their stories and I think this is such a cop out; yes it's ...more
Jun 25, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this earlier Pelecanos crime novel. Story picks up a decade after "King Suckerman," in 1986, with Marcus Clay and Dimitri Karras back in action, friends and business partners who find themselves entangled in a case of stolen drug money, a dealer who wants his money back and a pair of corrupt cops who are angling for their own score. The Sweet Forever has the usual Pelecanos attention to period detail, with music, movies and fast cars all part of the scenery. The ending might be a ...more
Theodore Kinni
Jan 20, 2016 Theodore Kinni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another good read by Pelecanos. I like the way he tracks the development of his characters and DC over the years in his books. But the story never really changes--the streets are mean and even the heros are flawed.
Ask Eirik Storsve
Jun 07, 2014 Ask Eirik Storsve rated it really liked it
Another great book in the DC Quartet. At some point, while listening to the audio version, I was driving down U street while the story took place on the same street. Local flair is everywhere!
Mar 26, 2015 Roger rated it it was amazing
I very rarely give five stars, but since I've become a Pelecanos fan over the past two years, this novel is his best. Love his characters, the setting and the story. A real moral tale. Even though you probably could predict who was going to die (or be injured) in the end, the path there was fun and tense. Truly captured the DC feel in the 1980s. And being centered around a chain of record stores gave Pelecanos a chance to spread his musical wings. Usually pinpointing great R&B and jazz recor ...more
Aug 07, 2014 Paul rated it really liked it
Another solid crime thriller by Pelecanos, the third in his D.C. Quartet series.

Ten years after the violent bicentennial events in King Suckerman, trouble comes right to the door of Marcus Clay's record store. A gangster's car speeds out of control, swerving around the Green Line Metro construction on U Street, and crashes in a fiery wreck, with a pillowcase of drug money going missing in the chaos. Pelecanos lays out the consequences with his usual sure hand. The characters--both returning and
Feb 25, 2009 Guy rated it really liked it
Misschien wel de rock-’n-rollste van de Amerikaanse misdaadbrigade. Sinds begin jaren negentig is Pelecanos aan een opmars bezig die niet te stuiten valt. Hoewel zijn oeuvre uiteenvalt in verschillende reeksen, de boeken zich afspelen in verschillende tijdperken (wel allemaal naoorlogs) en de nadruk meer verschoven is naar het sociaal-realistische element, is zijn werk in z’n geheel toch verrassend coherent en continu. The Sweet Forever is het derde deel uit zijn D.C. Quartet, vier boeken die zi ...more
May 08, 2008 Cristian rated it liked it
With characters that make you outraged and disgusted and also sad, George Pelecanos’ “The Sweet Forever” is a notable book, not least of the reasons being that it is as addictive as the crack that is just starting to pour into the novel’s Washington, D.C. setting as it comes to a close. Of course, as Keith Haring so succinctly put it when he named a Harlem mural, “Crack Is Whack,” this can be a good and a bad thing: You find yourself reading Pelecanos' novel probably when you should be getting ...more
Aug 04, 2013 Brett rated it it was ok
Shelves: summer-fiction
The third in Pelecanos’ series of DC crime books. Dimitri Karras is a main player along with Marcus Clay, both characters in the prior King Suckerman. The period is the 1980s, drugs are wreaking havoc with the city as young gangs kill others for entering their ‘turf.’ Like other Pelecanos novels, there is extensive drug use, characters who waffle between their better impulses and their circumstances, and misled youth. Although comforting to read about many familiar locales - Ben’s Chili Bowl, Mt ...more
Feb 25, 2015 Lisa rated it it was ok
This was the first Pelecanos book I've read. Since I am also from DC, I enjoyed reading about many familiar locations. Good pacing and the characterizations improved as the book progressed. However, the writing was not very good, particularly the writing about sex from a female perspective.
Washington Post
Jul 09, 2013 Washington Post rated it it was amazing
This gritty crime novel set on U Street in 1986 shows the darkest side of Washington’s recent history.

“Marcus Clay and George Dozier sat at the counter of the Florida Avenue Grill, located at the corner of 11th and Florida on the tip of Shaw. They had seen each other at church, as they did every Sunday, and Clay had followed Dozier to the grill for a late breakfast. They sat on red stools where the counter jutted in, back toward the swinging kitchen door. Along the wall, front to back, above the
Jeff Murray
Nov 24, 2015 Jeff Murray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read

I liked the tie ins from previous stories. Look forward to book 4 in the D.C. series. If you like the previous books you will like this one too.
Jul 21, 2014 Peter rated it it was amazing
Brilliant, loved the pace, dialect, plot, characters. This is a great book
Jun 30, 2009 Jody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pelecanos delivers another solid look at life on the mean streets of D.C. Not his best effort, but nobody serves up gritty slice of life insight like Pelecanos does. This time he sets his sights on the 1980's as we check in with Marcus Clay and Dimitri Karras for the 2nd. book in their series. He continues to connect the various characters in his universe, some of which had adventures of their own back in the early 1940's. For this reason I recommend reading the books in order. Some are better t ...more
Matt English
Excellent Noir!!! My favorite far.
Christopher David
May 30, 2013 Christopher David rated it it was amazing
An earlier novel of his like this makes Pelecanos's contributions to "The Wire" as clear as day. He understands what drives people--cops, dealers, people trying to improve their lot and people irreparably damaged by their choices but also by forces beyond their control--and he knows how to create atmosphere through details that "shows" you his version of D.C. Lehane's the better moralist because Pelecanos is a wee bit too idealistic, but I'm starting to believe, after having read 7 or so books b ...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

D.C. Quartet (4 books)
  • The Big Blowdown
  • King Suckerman
  • Shame the Devil

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