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King Suckerman (D.C. Quartet #2)

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  1,679 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
King Suckerman is a thriller that weaves the blaxploitation films, the drug deals, the soul music, and the racial tensions that defined the seventies into a story of natural-born killers and two men who risk everything to bring them down. Dimitri Karras and Marcus Clay are old friends whose affection transcends the barriers of race. Clay is a Vietnam vet trying to make a g ...more
Published September 7th 2000 by Serpent's Tail (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
Oct 29, 2013 Andrea rated it really liked it
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
Dave Szostak
It is the summer of 1976 and 'King Suckerman' is the title of a new film ("the one about the pimp?") that virtually every character in the novel is dying to watch. Taking place throughout Independence Day weekend of the Bicentennial Year, the novel portrays a melting pot of Washington D.C. denizens; a tapestry of races and a cauldron of ethnic criminality. Pelecanos' novel pulsates with the jive and vibe of the blaxploitation films it manifestly emulates and reveres. The facile and underwhelming ...more
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.w
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
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...
Nigel Bird
Jan 28, 2017 Nigel Bird rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘Don’t be wishin’ me no good luck. It’s all luck man. If there’s one thing I learned overseas, that’s it.’

I’m usually a sucker for a Pelecanos. He ranks right up there as one of my favourites. Suckerman, however, took a good while to win me over.

It’s a novel that harks back to the nineteen seventies and deals with some cracking modern American themes. There’s a blistering soundtrack, the shadows of Vietnam, guns, drugs, basketball, race, gangsters, movies and loyalty.

The opening is a cold-bloode
Nov 16, 2010 Paul rated it really liked it
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
This book expertly mixed lots of violence, drugs, music, movies, basketball, and other pop culture references from the 1970s in with both over the top characters and others that were extremely realistic.
Brad Devaughn
Not his best work yet enjoyable. I am a big fan of the Terry Quinn / Derek Strange stories.
Was a bit disappointed by this book that was more pure action and with less caracters who face dilemma than the previous on pf pelecanos that i really enjoyed.
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
Toby Turner
Feb 09, 2017 Toby Turner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another easy read from Pelecanos. Taut style and has one of the best opening chapters I've read in ages. Set in the 70's, following book 1's 40's vibe, you can really hear the difference in culture and personality whilst feeling a familar comfortable style in the writing. Unsurprisingly the pace is quick as lightening and the characters believable and honest in depiction (even when they're horrible people).
If you've never read the man, I can't recommend strongly enough that you should.
Sep 15, 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
Lisa H.
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
Aug 12, 2008 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
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
Sep 29, 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
Chuck Clay
Jan 29, 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
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
Mar 08, 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
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
May 07, 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
Jan 02, 2014 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
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
Jun 03, 2011 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book by Pelecanos. Probably the best out of his famous D.C. quartet (The Big Blowdown, The Sweet Forever, and Shame the Devil being the other 3). They're all excellent books, Pelecanos doesn't waste much time getting into the nitty gritty details of environments as much as his counterpart Dennis Lehane but instead focuses more on the characters and the story and I think that it works very well for him. I'd recommend any of these four books.
Massimo Foglio
Feb 18, 2013 Massimo Foglio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un Pelecanos in gran spolvero. Ottimo noir ambientato nella Washington del Bicentenario, alla cui lettura si abbina la ricerca (e, perché no, il riascolto) dei classici musicali dell'epoca di cui il libro éuna continua citazione.
Ottima storia con la solita ottima costruzione dei personaggi. E quando ti sembra di esserti perso in tutti i rivoli secondari della storia principale, ecco che uno ad uno tutti i tasselli vanno al loro posto. Una lettura godibile.
Kiehl Christie
King Suckerman was good, but not great in terms of a novel. I wasn't really drawn into the suspense, nor was I motivated too much by the characters.

However, the dialogue used and the historical backdrop that Pelecanos paints of DC in '76 is outstanding. For this reason, I can't wait to read more of his later works.

I recommend this book to anyone who is somewhat new to DC and wants some context through a lighter 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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