Dan Schwent's Reviews > Hell to Pay

Hell to Pay by George Pelecanos
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's review
Jun 12, 2013

really liked it
bookshelves: crime-and-mystery, pelecanos, 2013
Read from June 06 to 11, 2013

** spoiler alert ** Strange and Quinn take on two cases, one of a runaway turned prostitute and the background check of a longtime friend of Strange's daughter's new suitor. Complications ensue when a young boy on the football team Strange and Quinn are coaching is gunned down. Will Quinn be able to keep his temper in check long enough to get the girl back? Will Strange find dark secrets lurking in Calhoun Tucker's closet? What is the secret connection between the dead little boy, Strange, and the boy's unknown father?

Strange and Quinn are at it again. This time, most of the book is about the relationships between Strange and Quinn and the supporting cast. Strange and Janine's relationship is explored, Quinn meets another woman, and Strange and Quinn coach a peewee football team. Lurking in the background are Garfield Potter and his gang, a pimp named Worldwide Wilson, and druglord Granville Oliver.

The Derek Strange books, while detective fiction, are also Pelecanos' way of showing the rough way of life of poor black children in Washington DC, showing a different side of DC than we've seen with Nick Stefanos and the DC Quartet. Each of the antagonists grew up rough and while they are all pieces of garbage, they didn't have much choice in the matter.

I really like that Strange is committing to Janine and likely giving up his happy endings at the massage parlor. I also like that Quinn has a girlfriend now that will likely reign him in. Strange and Quinn are much more complex than they appeared at first glance.

Some of this book is hard to take, like the death of Joe Wilson. Hell, the fight between Worldwide and Quinn was one of the more brutal fist fights I've ever read. The connection between Strange and Granville was unexpected but made a lot of sense once it was revealed.

At this point, I'd read the phone book if Pelecanos had a hand in writing it. Four stars.
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Reading Progress

06/06/2013 marked as: currently-reading
06/11/2013 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by Robert (new)

Robert Dan, you make a very convincing case for George Pelecanos...I know it's completely out of sequence, but I'll give Shame the Devil a whirl.

message 2: by Jason (new)

Jason Koivu In case I don't get around to reading this, could you tell me how the team did?

I like football.

message 3: by Dan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dan Schwent (view spoiler)

message 4: by Jason (last edited Jun 11, 2013 11:30AM) (new)

Jason Koivu Dan wrote: "

(view spoiler)

message 5: by Laima (new) - added it

Laima What is your favorite Pelecanos novel, Dan? What should I read first?

message 6: by Dan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dan Schwent Laima wrote: "What is your favorite Pelecanos novel, Dan? What should I read first?"

I'd start with The Big Blowdown or A Firing Offense. Actually, in a perfect world, I'd read the first three books of the DC Quartet, then the Nick Stefanos trilogy, then Shame the Devil, the final book of the DC Quartet.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

You're right, Dan, the Nick Stefanos trilogy is a perfect world.

message 8: by An Odd1 (new)

An Odd1 Great "phone book" line could start review, deserves not to be hidden. Points about commitment, fights, and loss, also, if outside spoilers, give me reasons to choose this from series -- or not.

James Thane Of course if Pelecanos wrote the phone book, he'd include a lot of great musical references...

message 10: by An Odd1 (new)

An Odd1 Just saw Gangster Squad DVD where music of time overlays end credits. Scores add much to films. But would references like Pelecanos' translate to Tom Cruise's Jack Reacher? (Motivates Jack Reacher in Killing Floor http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... He stops at small town just to find black jazz musician. In Steven King's 11/22/63, big theme is narrator enjoying life, dancing to swing music with girl - young, then old http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... Reviewed well in pictures http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...

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