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King Suckerman (D.C. Quartet #2)

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,531 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
The time is 1976.Captain Beefheart's on the eight-track.The hot new superfly flick King Suckerman is coming to neighborhood theaters.And Washington, D.C., is a hotbed of drugs and racial tension--an easy place to turn a wrong corner and land in a whole lot of trouble.

That's what happens to Marcus Clay and Dimitri Karras when they cross paths with an ex-con and his gang of
Mass Market Paperback, 324 pages
Published August 1998 by Dell (first published 1997)
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I've read about ten of George Pelecanos's novels. I've never picked up another book once I've started one of his, till I'm finished.

George Pelecanos, 2013

One of the best Pelecanos stories. This is the second of the D.C. Quartet series, published between 1996 and 2000. Takes place mostly over the July 4 weekend of 1976, that of the American Bicentennial. (I remember it well, we were
Dan Schwent
It's 1976 and everyone's talking about King Suckerman, the new blaxploitation flick that's in the theaters. When Marcus Clay and Dimitri Karras wind up with a pile of cash after a drug deal gone wrong, everyone's after their hides, including a thug named Wilton Cooper and his gang, and an Italian named Tony Spags, who wants his money and his girl, who's shacking up with Karras. Can Clay and Karras give the money back without getting killed?

Here we are, the second book in George Pelecanos' DC Qua
Nov 09, 2013 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Look ma, no cops!

As good as Soul Circus, although I can't decide if the avalanche of 70's references in this one was distracting or not - they kept triggering either old memories (ah, how I pined for an orange Karmann Ghia but settled for a red Fastback; how I swooned over Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes If You Don't Know Me By Now and on and on...) or frustrated scramblings to link names with sounds (uh, Robin Trower, let's see, some sort of virtuoso guitarist, right? Damn, that's about all th
Larry Bassett
Although I am a fan of George Pelecanos, I barely made it through the first third of King Suckerman so I was amazed to read among the Wikipedia paragraphs:

King Suckerman, set in the 1970s and generally regarded as the fans' favorite, introduced the recurring theme of basketball in Pelecanos' fiction. Typically, he employs the sport as a symbol of cooperation amongst the races, suggesting the dynamism of D.C. as reflective of the good will generated by multi-ethnic pick up games.
From http://en.
Pubblicato nel 1997, l’anno in cui uscì “Jackie Brown” di Quentin Tarantino, entrambi vanno a rispolverare quel fenomeno degli anni Settanta che fu definito blaxploitation.
Entrambi, al contrario della vera blaxploitation, presumo siano diretti a un pubblico non esclusivamente afroamericano, anzi, direi principalmente altro.

George Pelecanos è un bravo scrittore e meriterebbe di non essere penalizzato da edizioni italiane così brutte e cialtrone: a parte essere inguardabile, è pieno di r
Jun 21, 2014 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like Shoedog and What It Was, this is Pelecanos at his uber-cool, pulp fiction best. If The Big Blowdown, the first book in DC Quartet, was Scorcese, this is Tarantino; killer tunes, whip smart dialogue and a wicked sense of humour. I cannot get enough of this guy...
Oct 06, 2014 Doug rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I know that this was far from the first book that Pelecanos had published, but while reading it I got the impression that it was something he had written very early in his career that didn't get published until he was established. On the one hand, it's an interesting snapshot of DC in the mid-70's. On the other hand, the writing just feels uncharacteristically clunky, to the point where I had trouble staying in the story.

Ultimately, I would say that if you want the full DC Quartet experience, y
Mar 09, 2015 Lucynell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What's so cool about Pelecanos is that his crime fiction is steeped in popular culture. For instance, here, one of the main characters owns a record shop and tracks and albums and bands are played throughout the story and all stated and commented. Lots of 1970s funk and soul and some rock, too. King Suckerman, the title of the novel, is the title of a movie opening the same weekend and about half the book wants to go see. As attractive is Pelecanos beloved, seedy Washington, D.C, its streets, ba ...more
Brad Devaughn
Not his best work yet enjoyable. I am a big fan of the Terry Quinn / Derek Strange stories.
Dec 29, 2015 Byron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the second book in Pelecanos' famed late '90s-era DC quartet and maybe his fifth book overall. I didn't read the first book in the series because I just plain don't have it. Feel free to buy a copy for me or tell me where I can illegally download it. I promise I won't tell Pelecanos, whom I don't know anyway.

I'd say this represents a sizable leap in craft from his first few books, the Nick Stefanos series, which I read earlier this year, but honestly I'm not sure if I found it any more
Matthew Shoe
This second book of the D.C. Quartet Series is the story of drug dealer Dimitri Karras and his good friend, record store owner, Marcus Clay. Karras is a flawed yet likeable character, like his father; leading a life of happy-go-lucky depravity with a growing awareness of his own defects. The pair runs into trouble with some unsavory drug traffickers and the story cruises from there.

The book has lots of action, a few sordid sex acts, drug and alchohol use, etc. The author's signature music refere
Read the STOP SMILING interview with George Pelecanos:

This interview appeared in the STOP SMILING DC Issue

The Stop Smiling Interview with George Pelecanos
By Walker Lamond

It turns out the paper coasters on George Pelecanos’ coffee table were lifted from the short-lived City Museum of DC. Printed up to promote the museum’s opening and tout the city’s hometown heroes, they read, “Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Elmore Leonard, all rolled into one Silver Spring boy.” Pelecanos
Jan 18, 2011 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
George Pelecanos was about to give up on writing when he decided start a book in his spare time, almost as a lark. These beginnings show, for good and for ill, in King Suckerman, the novel he ended up completing. Whereas in many of Pelecanos's books, he takes a single act of violence and carefully examines its meanings and repercussions, here there's a senseless, gruesome murder in the first few pages, and the book continues apace, with many stomach-turning bits of violence following. Perhaps it ...more
Nov 19, 2012 William rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is Pelecanos tribute to 1970's blaxploitation flicks. And what better way to do that than to write a book in the very style of the waaay over the top movies it skewers? Almost all of the characters seem to have walked directly from the screenings of Shaft, Superfly and the Mack onto the pages of this book. Pelcanos even keeps the soundtrack tight by constantly referencing 70's music staples and some one hit wonders that only someone who lived it could remember. He skillfully recreates the e ...more
Lisa H.
Sep 09, 2013 Lisa H. rated it liked it
Way too much pop culture immersion in this one for me, which is funny, because that's one of the things I appreciate about Pelecanos - his ability to evoke a particular time and place by what was in the air music- and culture-wise.

Basically, King Suckerman is the story of a regular guy who, having sown his own wild oats and left those days behind, makes a dumb move and gets caught up in something far worse than he anticipated. His best friend is a sort of ne'er-do-well party guy and playboy who
Mar 19, 2012 Simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
King Suckerman by George P. Pelecanos
This is a great pulp fiction page turner of a
book set in Washington DC in the weeks
surrounding the Bi-Centennial. The title refers
to a Blaxploitation movie all the caracters have
to see in the middle of the drug deals going
awry that they are involved in, the book is very
funny and well paced and also nicely reverential
as it name checks Iceberg Slim who is the
obvious influence on the Author and has it's own
soundtrack as the caracters are always putting
Chuck Clay
Jan 31, 2013 Chuck Clay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in Washington, DC in 1976, King Suckerman refers to the title of a new blaxploitation film that is opening in nearby theaters. King Suckerman is a pimp, and unlike most blaxploitation films, this one is realistic, gritty, and kind of a bummer. The story has little to do with that film, except as a thematic and 70's era touchstone. The story is about Marcus Clay and Dmitri Karras (both of whom will show up in later novels as well) as they face off against a pair of stone cold killers out for ...more
Feb 21, 2014 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A excellent crime story set in 70s er D.C. The author really captured the mood and setting, all of the character's voices come off as real and authentic. Constant references to music of the day tie it all together and add to the authenticity.
May 22, 2011 Phloe rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Even for someone who loves the music and pop culture from this period pot murder mystery train, it falls very short of being even passably dope. So much of this tome is spent reading about the characters talking about LPs, you feel like you're at that party, stuck in a corner making small talk with that dude who brushed up on his music lists offa Wikipedia. I tried to give it a chance, but with all the forced 70s funk blaxploitation trying to seem out of the box, even the good versus evil climax ...more
Feb 17, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An early novel by Pelecanos that's not quite as cohesive as his later stuff, but I loved it nonetheless.

The characters spend a lot of time talking about movies, TV shows, and music. Just for fun- here's a list of every movie referenced in the book:

Five Fingers of Death, Black Caesar, Angels as Hard as They Come, The Master Gunfighter, 100 Rifles, Slaughter's Big Rip-Off, Vanishing Point, The Mack, Easy Rider, Taras Bulba, The Valachi Papers, Salt and Pepper, One More Time, Gone with the Wind, T
Mar 14, 2014 Frank rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, washington-dc
Book 2 of the DC Quartet jumps from the 50s to the 70s, specifically the bicentennial of 76. Another tale from the underside of the city with nice helpings of drugs, violence, and sex, not to mention a lot of music and basketball (a little too much music for my taste; never big on the non-punk 70s). It's all about the characters though as Pelecanos gives the whole cast of players depth and believability.
Apr 05, 2015 Bill_earl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pelecanos is a first rate author and this is one of his early ones. It was particularly interesting to me because I grew up in the area of the story at about the same time as the novel's setting.
ABC Group
This is more of what I've come to expect from Pelecanos. This is certainly his name-droppin-est book yet, in terms of movies and records, but it's a trick I like that he uses in most of his novels.

The Karras of King Suckerman is clearly nothing like his father (nor is he supposed to be) but the men he finds himself running with have the integrity of Nick and Costa in The Big Blowdown.

I really was into this book and it certainly read easily, but I'd say Pelecanos has stronger work. If you're a c
Edward Gardner
Jul 06, 2015 Edward Gardner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pelecanos writes great stories with fun cultural references. And they're always page turners.
Jan 11, 2016 Kyriakos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very entertaining! Interesting story, enjoyable style, hard to put down.
Cin Masson
Jan 20, 2014 Cin Masson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Few writers capture time and place as well as Pelacanos. The fashion, the music, the food and the mood of DC in the summer of '76 are so ingrained in this book, that you are transported. The racial tension and social mores of the time fuel the violent plot as do his excellent characterizations.
Chilly SavageMelon
Good pulp fiction. Pelecanos seems to love adding details about music, clothing, and cars which can lend an certain authenticity for the period. However with the music, it feels slightly too indie and "spot on" to be believable. But if you want to make sure all the characters in your novel are listening to hip stuff, so be it. I'll check out more of the DC quartet.

Not a heavy read, but then doesn't pretend to be. Delivers cleanly what it's meant to. The action scenes told from various angles wor
Theodore Kinni
Jan 20, 2016 Theodore Kinni rated it really liked it
DC noir set in the 70s
Jan 25, 2016 Parkneff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun, crammed with music and smoke and basketball, reeking of the 70's, you'd expect this crime story to be a thoughtless joyride. While it is certainly a joyride, I was surprised by the lingering effectiveness of the book's occasional poignant moments. Likewise, the decision to frame the thing as King Suckerman (in the book, King Suckerman is a too-real movie about a pimp) will stump and fascinate me for a while. This story was not too-real, and yet at moments it was totally alive. Great, quick ...more
Jul 05, 2014 Ian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was an OK read.
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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
  • The Sweet Forever
  • Shame the Devil

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