The Turnaround
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The Turnaround

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  2,091 ratings  ·  303 reviews
On a hot summer afternoon in 1972, three teenagers drove into an unfamiliar neighborhood and six lives were altered forever.
Thirty five years later, one survivor of that day reaches out to another, opening a door that could lead to salvation. But another survivor is now out of prison, looking for reparation in any form he can find it.
THE TURNAROUND takes us on a journey fr...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 7th 2009 by Back Bay Books (first published 2008)
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Dan Schwent
Way back in 1972, three white boys drove into the black part of town with an eye toward starting some trouble. One boy wound up dead and the lives of three boys were changed forever. Now it's forty years later and Charles Baker thinks someone owes him for the year he did in prison...

Once again, George Pelecanos serves up a tale of redemption and forgetting the past, set against his usual Washington DC backdrop. Of all the George Pelecanos books I've read, this one is the least like a crime novel...more
I recently read "The Age of Innocence" by Edith Wharton, and that had "cultural cringe" stamped all the way through it like a seaside resort's name in a stick of rock (no, not crack cocaine, a kind of candy). Upper class Americans in the late 19th century were completely in awe of Europe - its aristocracy, its culture, its old money. In the passing of a few decades, this cultural cringe had changed hands. A whole new sexy thing had been invented in America and entire industries were all revved u...more
Pelecanos continues to amaze me. As someone who was born in Washington, DC and lived there for most of my life, I think that Pelecanos understands the non-political DC, the DC of ordinary working people of various ethnicities, better than any writer I've read. This book takes a slightly different turn than his usual, concentrating on the aftermath of violence and the possibility of redemption. In addition to the usual street life, he uses Walter Reed Medical Center, those who work there as well...more
Right up front: George Pelecanos is one of my favorite authors. He writes exactly the kind of crime novels I'm interested in reading, ones that venture beyond the crime (which in some cases doesn't even occur on the page) to its effects on a community. He prefers a lean, direct writing style, relies little on contrived plot twists, and allows his characters only the hardest earned of optimism. His dialogue is spot-on and his characters are complex. He rarely utilizes violence for its own sake, c...more
Seizure Romero
I don't know that I would ever call Pelecanos a 'great' writer. His stories are not epic, he doesn't write particularly quotable dialogue and I won't necessarily remember any particular book years from now (except for Down By the River Where the Dead Men Go-- good book & best title ever-- and King Suckerman-- just plain badass). Pelecanos has, however, definitely earned his place as a 'damned good' writer. His plots are tight and bullshit-free (David Baldacci and a gazillion others could lea...more
I've read with relish the earlier GP titles (NICK'S TRIP, KING SUCKERMAN, etc.). THE TURNAROUND is a more complex, mature title. GP has dialed back on the violence and focused on families. The other trademarks like the musical and pop culture references; detailed observations; and a strong sense of setting remain intact. The social slant still comes through (crime doesn't pay, the USA sends its soldiers into meatgrinder wars, etc.). I haven't read any other of themore recent titles to make compa...more
Maria João Fernandes
Com o racismo e a divisão das diferentes classes sociais como pano de fundo, George Pelecanos conta-nos, num tom familiar, a história de um acidente que teve lugar há 30 anos atrás. Os envolvidos, outrora jovens e agora adultos, antes filhos e agora pais, são os meios a que o autor recorre para demonstrar os efeitos dos nossos erros. O ser humano, sempre imperfeito, é perseguido pelo seu passado.
Infelizmente, as personagens são clichés demasiado óbvios e a evolução dos acontecimentos não tem nad...more
Steve Betz
I just finished George Pelacanos' book "The Turnaround". It's the second book of his that I've read and I'll tell ya, I don't think I'm going back for more.

The story here is actually a compelling one -- 30 years after a tragic racial incident in Washington DC, some of the principals are drawn back together. The book asks you to examine the effects that mistakes made young can have on your life -- and can you escape them. And it's not the plot that lets "The Turnaround" down, it's the execution.

I'm a sucker for stories about characters trying to get right with the past. I think I can trace it back to Al Pacino in Carlito's Way, where the story played out in a way that was just so desperately inevitable that I couldn't shake it for a long time. Ever since, stories that deal with the importance of memory and the inescapable nature of the past have had a powerful pull on me (which, I have to say, only gets stronger as I age and can start to see the trends in my own life). So it's possible...more
Another great Pelecanos book where instead of standard crime/mystery story, you get a character study on loss, regret, and forgiveness.
The Turnaround is the story of six teens whose lives are altered by one statement. Three bored D.C. teenagers decide to drive into unknown territory. Drunk, high and stupid, the passenger, Pete, uses a racial slur directed at three other teens on the sidewalk. When they try unsuccessfully to leave the area, Pete jumps out of the car and takes off. The driver, Billy gets out of the car and tries to reason with the 3 teens. Alex was just in the wrong car at the wrong time. Billy is shot and Alex h...more
Larry Bassett
I will not give you synopsis of the story. Other reviews have already done that. I am only writing this for you and for me.

OK, I have not read a book in one day in a long time! This book I read in a day. I have read Pelacanos before and have enjoyed his writing. Part of the reason is because he sets most of his books (as far as I know) in DC/Montgomery County. I lived in Silver Spring for about eight years. I met George before he became well known; his preschooler went to day care with my presc...more
Pelecanos, George. THE TURNAROUND. (2008). ****. This is a different type of novel for Pelecanos. The crime happens early on, and involves three white boys and three black boys. The white boys, on a lark, drive into a black neighborhood and shout insults at the black boys. One even throws a pie at one of the blacks. As they speed up their car to get away, they find that they can’t find their way out of the neighborhood, and end up being stopped by the three blacks. A confrontation follows. One o...more
How many of us have not thought about how totally different our lives might be today if we had altered one small decision in our past? Not necessarily better but different. Perhaps it was a bitter word that should not have been expressed; or a gesture of forgiveness that wasn’t offered. "The road not taken” is undoubtedly a thought that everyone has entertained at one time or another and that’s a theme that’s really well handled in this novel. Three teenaged boys out to “raise hell” and prove t...more
i love pelecanos' writing -- his use of the vernacular, his sense of pace, the slow but sure build-up of his plots, the large cast of well-loved characters (down to the extras), the web-like structure of the narrative, the road maps, the soda cans, the cigarettes, the cars, the playlists. it's all very cool stuff. nothing is introduced that is not dealt with technically. if there's a car there's a special feature and a motor part named by their proper names (if you don't know what they are you a...more
Darcia Helle
I'm torn on how to rate this one. On writing alone, Pelecanos is a 5+. He instantly breathes life into his characters. The dialogue has a perfect rhythm and sounds real. He brings more than entertainment, by tackling a difficult topic and never shying away from the dirt within.

What I had a problem with was the volume of characters and the constant game of leapfrog from one to another. Because there were so many characters, as a reader I was never able to truly latch on to one and invest complet...more
Paulo Migliacci
George Pelecanos may be one of those boring bleeding heart dudes who seem to rant endlessly about peace, love and understanding, but he sure doesn't write like one. His historical writing is always sharp and to the point, and his sense of proportion is flawless: his characters react believably to the believable quandaries Pelecanos sets for them. 'Believable' is not something that seems to matter a lot for modern fiction; Pelecanos' books are always among the most remarkable exceptions - and he...more
Lars Guthrie
What I read on my vacation part four. I read much of this utterly fantastic novel, definitely one of Pelecanos's best, at Phantom Ranch in the bottom of Grand Canyon and at Indian Gardens, halfway up. It's a powerful tale of resolution, redemption and hope, and the ending brought tears to my eyes. While I still believe that Richard Price is a cut above his fellow "Wire" writers Pelecanos and Dennis Lehane, going beyond genre and formula, Pelecanos has made a case to be taken seriously with this...more
Syntactical Disruptorize
I liked The Turnaround. It wasn't an effective mystery, but I don't think it was meant primarily as a mystery, and it succeeded pretty well as a tale of suspense. I cared about the characters and I wanted to see how things would turn out for them.

I especially appreciated the lack of stereotypically idiotic plot points that would have been in a book like this if a lesser author had written it. In dumb novels, smart, successful people do incredibly dumb things and will do even dumber things to cov...more
Michael Martz
I'm a big fan of George Pelecanos. I like his writing style and ability to create a realistic atmosphere for his novels. The Turnaround was one Pelecanos book that underwhelmed me. Although the trademark music references were well represented and he did a nice job describing the diner business, it just didn't seem as if he nailed the milieu as well as he typically does. In fact, it feels like a short story that was stretched to novel length.

I don't like to play the spoiler, but suffice to say th...more
I loved this. I've loved all of Pelecanos's gritty depressing books with their unmistable air of authenticity and their obvious contempt for hypocrisy and simple-mindedness of all flavors. But something seems to have mellowed him a bit; while this one is grim, it's also hopeful.
Pretty darn good! The place the shooting took place is here in Kensington where I work. The neighborhood has been rebuilt into some nice cute homes, there is still only one way in and out.
Laura Dugan
An interesting story centering around how one incident can change the shape of the lives of those involved and the quest for closure and redemption that follow.
A awesome book. up there amongst the best ,GP has no competition

I can confidently say that George Pelecanos is my favorite author. This one seals the deal. Pelecanos' focus has gradually been changing from crime novels to stories of relationships especially between father and son. I have been seeing this trend in his work and after reading an interview at the end of The Turnaround, he himself confirms the fact.

This book was so satisfying. Relationships and character development are components that deeply involve me, give me insights into families, inspire me...more
I haven't felt this tense in reading a novel since I was 12 years old and racing through the Tarzan books of Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Fu-Manchu ones of Sax Rohmer. Pelecanos is covering familiar ground, that of crime-ridden black neighborhoods of the Baltimore (he worked as a writer on the script of the tv series, THE WIRE), and the tenseness comes from realizing that particularly brutal violence can occur at any time and hoping that decent people will be spared.
Pelecanos always has compas...more
Kathy (Bermudaonion)
In the 1970’s, three teen-age white boys - Billy, Pete and Alex – were out drinking, smoking pot and cruising. They drove into a black neighborhood, pulled up alongside three teen-aged black boys – Raymond, James and Charles - rolled down the window, threw a Hostess cherry pie at one the young men and yelled a racial epithet. When the white boys sped off, they discovered the street ended in a turnaround; when they returned the black youths were waiting for them. One boy, Pete, jumped out of the...more
Alex Sarll
So I'd been meaning to read some Pelecanos for a while, because the last crime writer I tried based on his having contributed to The Wire was Richard Price, who is brilliant. And I've no idea if this was a good place to start, but of the two I own it's the slimmer, so this was the start I made. The first thing I noticed: he's great at characterisation. When a character turns up, there's a page or a paragraph sketching them out, and in that space, you feel you know them. This only becomes a probl...more
When three teenagers, high on life and some substances, drive into the wrong neighborhood one hot summer afternoon, their lives will be changed forever.

A racial epithet, then a mad scramble to drive away, only to be stymied by a "turnaround" in the street...and the episode ends in violence. One boy is dead, another two injured.

Thirty-five years later, we see the ramifications still unfolding in shattered lives; anger and hate rippling forward and outward; and in the midst of it all, there is als...more
"The Turnaround" is yet another powerful novel by George Pelecanos. It really demonstrates how far he has come since his early, drug-fueled romps in the Nick Stefanos series. Perhaps Pelecanos himself had this on his mind as he wrote "Turnaround", because one of the characters now works at Nutty Nathan's and was once sold a stereo by Joe McGinnes. But I digress. This book is about the powerful grip of the past and how one mistake can have an impact that lasts decades.

The "Turnaround" in this boo...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
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