"The Big Blowdown" is one of George Pelecanos's earlier books (1996), which explores the lives of a number of boys, descendants of Greek and Italian i...more"The Big Blowdown" is one of George Pelecanos's earlier books (1996), which explores the lives of a number of boys, descendants of Greek and Italian immigrants, who are friends during the depression years of the 1930s and who then grow into adulthood. Most of the book takes place in the post-war years as these men, now young adults, search for their places in the world.
Some of them, of course, make better choices than others. Two of the principal characters, Pete Karras and Joe Recevo come home from World War II and turn to organized crime. But Pete doesn't have the heart to be a shakedown artist picking on poor immigrants and he is brutally separated from the mob and from his friend Joe. Several years later, Pete and Joe cross paths again when the mob attempts to move in on the restaurant where Pete is working and the results will be explosive.
Along the way, Pete also befriends a young kid who has come to the city searching for his sister who has turned to prostitution to support a heroin habit, and this gives some meaning and purpose to a life that Pete feels he has largely wasted. Finally, running through much of the book is a series of prostitute killings that bedevils another of Pete's boyhood friends, policeman Jimmy Boyle. All of these threads are woven together to produce a stunning climax.
Like virtually all of Pelecanos's books, this one is set in Washington D.C. and provides a vivid portrayal of the city at a certain point in time. Like all of Pelecanos's books, this one is also infused with sex, violence and with the music of the era. The book begins a bit slowly as Pelecanos introduces the characters, but once it gets rolling, it's hard to put it down. All of the characters are expertly drawn and they are placed in perfectly believable settings. This is another winner from a very gifted writer.(less)
DCI Alan Banks is on holiday in London, frolicking (or hoping to) with the new love of his life, when his colleague, DI Annie Cabbot is called to the...moreDCI Alan Banks is on holiday in London, frolicking (or hoping to) with the new love of his life, when his colleague, DI Annie Cabbot is called to the scene of an apparent suicide. Mark Hardcastle, set designer for a local theater group, is found hanging from a tree in the woods outside Eastvale. Things get more complicated when Hardcastle's lover, Laurence Silbert, is found savagely beaten to death in the luxurious home that the two shared.
Banks is called back from his holiday to help deal with the situation which, on the surface, appears to be murder-suicide once Hardcastle's fingerprints are found on the murder weapon. But Banks soon discovers that Silbert was an allegedly retired spy, and he begins to wonder if all is as it appears. Banks's supervisors declare the case closed and order him to give it up. He won't, of course, and soon finds himself in the middle of a complicated situation that threatens his career, his personal safety and the safety of those around him.
****SPOILER ALERT**** Do not read beyond this point if you are planning to read this book. I have read all of the books in this series (this being the 18th), and while I enjoyed parts of it, I felt increasingly dissatisfied as book progressed. Banks is repeatedly warned off the case because national security issues may be at stake. Sinister government agents appear doing nasty things simply to prevent their secrets from possibly being exposed, and in the middle of it all, there is a terrorist bombing that seems to have nothing at all to do with the plot. Finally, I found the conclusion of the book to be implausible on the surface and to be more than a little disappointing.
Without giving anything more away, let me just say that the conclusion involves two of the characters being chased by two others. The characters being pursued are in a Porsche; they have a head start, and the driver is very familiar with the road. The pursuers are in a BMW; they are behind from the git-go, and the driver cannot know the road as well as the Porsche driver. Still, the BMW somehow manages to overtake the Porsche and force it off the road. In the Real World, this simply isn't going to happen, unless the Porsche owner is the most inept driver on the planet.
Robinson obviously has larger issues he wants to address in this book, but in doing so, I think he has written a book that falls short of the standards he set earlier in the series, and I hope that he will allow Banks and Cabbot to get back into their usual routines ASAP.(less)
In "Long Lost," Harlan Coben returns to his roots, reuniting his series characters Myron Bolitar and his sidekick, Win, along with the rest of the cas...moreIn "Long Lost," Harlan Coben returns to his roots, reuniting his series characters Myron Bolitar and his sidekick, Win, along with the rest of the cast that populated Coben's early books.
In the ninth installment of this series, Myron's relationship with 9/11 widow Ali Wilder sputters to a convenient end when Ali decides to move to Scottsdale, Arizona. Right on cue, Myron's old girlfriend Terese Collins, whom he hasn't seen in seven years, phones from Paris, begging Myron to come help her. Terese's journalist ex-husband, Rick, has disappeared after telling her that he was about to give her shocking news.
Myron goes to Paris, with Win following along behind, only to discover that the ex-husband has been murdered under very mysterious circumstances. Evidence at the scene suggests a shattering revelation. Myron determines to solve the crime and to discover the secret that led to Rick Collin's death and which threatens Myron and Terese as well.
In fairly short order Myron, Terese and Win find themselves at the epicenter of an international chase involving terrorists, who are determined to carry out a diabolical plot, and the agents of several governments who believe that there are issues much larger and more important than the survival of our intrepid heroes.
The terrorist plot strains credulity, but still this is a fun ride with lots of action, some great fight scenes, and the usual humor that one finds in these books. In particular, Coben and his characters get a lot of mileage out of the activities of a flight attendant named Mee.
Coben fans will welcome this addition to the series, but those who haven't read Coben yet (assuming that such creatures exist) might do better starting with the earlier books in the series and working their way in the direction of "Long Lost."(less)