Larry Bassett's Reviews > The Turnaround

The Turnaround by George Pelecanos
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Jul 02, 2010

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bookshelves: fiction, crime
Read from July 01 to 02, 2010

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 preschooler. So when he started publishing books, I started reading them. So I came in through the back door but like where I have found myself.

You don't have to know much about the early 1970s, but if you do, you will get some special enjoyment -- or nostalgea. I'd call Pelacanos a relist. He paints his word canvas with a lot of attention to detail in language and location. Mostly the detail actually has no direct bearing on the story; it is just fun and so Pelacanic.

Part of his attention to detail involves product placement. If he gets paid for any of his name brand mentions, he is doing OK. It just doesn't matter that it is a grape Nehi soda and Wise potato chips, but there it is. Plenty of that. I have to put some space between Pelacano books so that my mind can forget some of the style details and I can enjoy them again. You have to be willing to smile to yourself, "This is George all right."

His time leap from 1972 to 2007 is a positive aspect of the story. You do not need to walk along with a character for 35 years to have him/her be well developed. We do learn a lot about the main characters and their progression through life.

Not to be a spoiler, I was not that impressed with the conclusion. It does fit the storyline and the developed characters but much of the book had more intensity than the conclusion.

One interesting tidbit: War by Sebastian Junger is set in a Korengal valley outpost in Afghanistan. The son of one of the major characters in The Turnaround is stationed in that same location. Probably both in the same division/regiment/unit. Must be the place to be!

I might have to read a few more Pelacanos books before I would get tired of his pattern. And, like I said, if I allow some time to pass between books it is OK for me. So far. The publication schedule is just about right for me although I do have some catching up to do since I have taken a several year break.
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