Larry Bassett's Reviews > The Way Home

The Way Home by George Pelecanos
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Jul 14, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, crime
Read in June, 2010

** spoiler alert ** According to the list in the front of the book, this is Pelecanos' 16 book. I have read quite a few of them and come back for more every time I remember to look if he has a new book. I read slowly and my recent trend is to read non-fiction books which automatically slows me down even more. I have just begun reading some novels again and am enjoying the fact that I can read some shorter novels in just a few day.

...and they lived happily ever after. Pelecanos' take is: "If storytellers told it true, all stories would end in death." On the other hand, he might say that Life Goes On.

Pelecanos does seem to have a formula in many of his books that I have read. There is the initial background story, time passes (10 years will do), and the experience from the background story comes back on some way or another. And it is usually all men who play the major roles. Women are wives or mothers or waitresses or girlfriends and most of them are pretty good looking as Pelecano often points out. And often sex objects. In this book a homicide detective shows up a woman! And it seems like maybe a woman will have a significant. But "She was a slow, deliberate mover anyway, what with the extra weight she was carrying these days in her hips, belly, and behind." I guess she is not good looking but at least she is a mother and it turns out to only appear a couple more times briefly so is not a significant character.

The code of not being a rat (or a stool pigeon as Pete Seeger might say) is held to pretty firmly here. But it does seem like it does lead to bad consequences. At the end Chris does break the code and call the police in a scene that suggests that he has finally come around to the right way.

If you ever have taken a writing class, writing a descriptive paragraph is always one of the assignment. George Pelecanos would get an A+ in being descriptive. It is one of his trademarks and I think it is kind of fun although I do not always know the referenced product. GP is a name brand kind of guy. No generics for him. "Lawrence wore a LRG T-shirt with a matching hat, and Nikes edged in red to pick up the red off the shirt."

Pelecanos displays his thoughts about child rearing clearly noting early and lasting damage from environment and primary care providers. Locking kids up in juvenile detention is not a good solution. "I wasn't so bad when I went in. But they cured me of any goodness I had by the time I came out." Plenty of places for characters to fall prey to their past or escape to a better future. "Time for you to make your move or you ain't never gonna get out," one of the characters says to his young nephew. These kind of messages are throughout the book but I am not sure I would call Pelecanos' book a change agent. What would people who disagreed with message think of his books? Would they read it start with and would they finish it?

And my biggest inability to suspend disbelief is (I guess some think this is the spoiler) not taking the $50,000. Now come on! There are many things you could do if you found a large stray bunch of money. But putting it back doesn't seem to me to be high on the list of possibilities. Sorry, George.

ADDED LATER
I would call this a suspense or mystery book and I did feel the surprise (for me) ending fit the book. I was surprised about how much emotion I felt in the last 50 or so pages. I am not quite sure if that was coming from me or from the book. (Sometimes I enjoy being jerked around by a book. As a guy, feeling emotions is a good thing and good practice.) I may have to read it again to see if I can figure that out. In the meantime, I would be interested to hear if others found this book to be emotional, especially at the end.
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message 1: by Josh (new)

Josh I'm looking to give Pelecanos another chance after I just finished reading his new book, a collection of short stories and a novella entitled 'The Money Shot' and this seems like a decent one to start with. Thanks.


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