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

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  850 ratings  ·  48 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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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...more
James Thane
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...more
Tfitoby
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...more
Larry Bassett
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...more
Ted
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...more
Elizabeth
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
Michael Martz
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...more
Sandi
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.
Kurt Adam
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
Michael Donnelly
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...more
Paul
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 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 new...more
Guy
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
Cristian
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
Paul
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
Brett
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
Washington Post
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...more
Ask Eirik Storsve
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!
grundoon
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
Petermoroney
Brilliant, loved the pace, dialect, plot, characters. This is a great book
Jody
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
Christopher David
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
Jrobertus
George Pelecanos has written a number of thrillers, and I am looking forward to reading more. I like his style. The dialog is crisp, the characters interesting, and the detail is engaging. IN this story, a black record story owner and his Greek American buddy face up to a Washington DC drug lord and his muscle boys. Pelicanos is a writer for the fabulous HBO series "The Wire" and it shows here. He has the same kind of gritty characters and episodic narrative as the TV show.
Joe
You weep for Len Bias all over again. And he's not even in it except as something of a McGuffin, a glowing suitcase representing the moment that crack began to seriously have its way with Washington.

So you really weep for the city and where it all went horribly wrong.

The year before, middle and upper-middle class white kids in the Dischord scene were talking about having a Revolution Summer. I don't think this is what they meant.
Joseph
This book might resonate more strongly for those (like me) who have lived in DC, for whom the mere mention of a Ben's chili half-smoke prompts involuntary sense memories; also for those (again, like me) for whom the cocaine epidemic of the 1980s impacted one's material well-being. But all that stated, few U.S. writers active today understand race and class better than Pelecanos, and anyone with a mind and a heart can get into that.
Sebastian Hagedorn
My first Pelecanos novel. I knew him from The Wire, but at least this novel is a bit diiferent, i.e. a much more happy ending. I enjoyed the musical references the most. I have almost all the records the white protagonists in the book listen to – and just about none of the others, I must admit. Plus I've been to the 9:30 club myself a few years after 1986, the year the novel takes place.
Galen Johnson
Marcus Clay opens a record store on U Street in an attempt to bring businesses back into the abandoned DC area, and he witnesses a car crash of a drug dealer, and sees a white man steal money from the wreck. The novel follows Clay, his employees, the drug dealers, and two dirty cops through the aftermath of the event.

Stark, offers many points of view, good picture of urban DC. Recommended
Matt
This is the first Pelecanos novel I read and serves as a strong introduction to his work. I actually read this before King Suckerman (which received better reviews) but I find this to be the superior work. He is grouped within the hard-boiled genre but his characters, Marcus especially, has more heart than Philip Marlowe and certainly more soul than Sam Spade.
Chris
Drugs, Minor Threat, Trouble Funk, crooked cops, racial tension, power pop, car crashes, bags of money that don't belong to the people holding it AND IT ALL REVOLVES AROUND LEN BIAS. Warning: contains an inexplicable amount of useless D.C. geography. But at least you'll know how to get from Rock Creek Park to some fictional lesbian bar. Knowledge is power.
Paul
Absolutely masterful depiction of mid-80's Washington, DC. Pelecanos juggles about two dozen characters and three separate story lines without once dropping the ball. Drug dealers, crooked cops, small businessmen, appliance salesmen and one lonely kid all caught up in the middle of a search for missing drug money. Compulsive reading.
Carolyn (in SC) C234D
I read this in 2000, and made no notes of my reaction to the book. But I like Pelecanos, and have read other books by him, so I must rate it at least three stars; it may deserve more from me, but I just can't remember. On second thought, I'm giving it 4*, I think that I have really liked anything I've read by him.
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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
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