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The Sweet Forever (D.C. Quartet #3)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,654 Ratings  ·  108 Reviews
Marcus Clay's record store is at the epicenter of the drug trade in Washington, D.C., in the mid-1980s. Dimitri Karras, his best friend and store manager, is rapidly developing a nasty drug habit. But things get worse when the two men witness the theft of the bag of a local drug lord who is willing to destroy the entire neighborhood to get it back. "A detailed and emotiona ...more
Paperback, 298 pages
Published 2000 by Serpent's Tail (first published 1998)
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Dan Schwent
A drug runner's car crashes outside of Marcus Clay's record store and someone steals a bag of money out of the back of the car as it burns. Will the stolen bag of money destroy all that Marcus Clay has worked to build?

The third book in George Peleanos' DC Quartet catches up with Dimitri Karras and Marcus Clay in the 1980s, years after the events of King Suckerman. Marcus now owns a chain of record stores and Dimitri owns an impressive cocaine habit. Complicating matters are a pair of crooked cop
James Thane
Feb 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is another great novel from George Pelecanos which captures brilliantly the disintegration of Washington, D.C., a city that Pelecanos obviously knows very well and loves even more. The book is set in March, 1986. The NCAA tourney seems to be playing on virtually every television set in town and on the streets of D.C. the big game is drugs, particularly the crack cocaine epidemic that seems to blanket much of the city.

The story contains a great cast of characters, many of whom have appeared
A. Dawes
Apr 29, 2016 rated it really liked it

Old Dimitri has got himself into a load of trouble. Nick Stephanos has to help out. I always enjoy Stephanos' escapades.

Pelecanos portrays Washington DC in the mid 80s in a delightful way, he really places us there through cultural references to music, food, drink, and what's in vogue in general. As a result the reader feels as if they are in the midst of the city - and the city is rife with the cocaine trade. The Mayor is also deep in his nostrils in fairy dust and escorts, and the cops too
Jan 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: black-as-night
I've heard a lot of good things about Pelecanos and so I was eager to read some of his work. This one has a pretty good reputation, high ratings etc. so I expected big things. I don't think it managed to live up to the hype.

Perhaps if I hadn't seen The Wire the imagery used and the life portrayed within it's pages would have been that much more powerful, however as it is I felt that they took the ideas put forward in this book and went further, deeper and generally made the show pack more of a p
Larry Bassett
Apr 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, fiction
The first George Pelecanos book was published in 1992. The Sweet Forever, out in 1998, is his seventh and is the third in the DC quartet: The Big Blowdown, King Suckerman, The Sweet Forever, and Shame the Devil. He published books at the standard one each year clip beginning in 1992 but skipped 1999 before he returned to the annual book again in 2000.

This is the best Pelecanos book I have read in some time. I try to spot him in occasionally among my other reading kind of like a reward. I deserve
I rate Pelecanos novels as 4 and 5 star books not because they are great literature (though they are better than you might guess), but because they are such page-turners. Once I start to read one, it is seldom that I have not finished within 24-36 hours, and badly need some extra sleep.

If you have never read one, be forewarned that there is a good deal of course language, and usually some fairly course sex. They are raw, but I have always felt that this isn't done to gain attention from the read
May 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
You weep for Len Bias all over again. And he's not even in it except as something of a McGuffin, a glowing suitcase representing the moment that crack began to seriously have its way with Washington.

So you really weep for the city and where it all went horribly wrong.

The year before, middle and upper-middle class white kids in the Dischord scene were talking about having a Revolution Summer. I don't think this is what they meant.
Jamie Hicks
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When oh when will a George P. book find it's way to a movie script? Never mind, nothing ruins a good book like a bad movie. Still, every George P. novel moves at breakneck pace. The story bursts out of the gate and you have to run to keep up. If George lets Hollywood have a go at his D.C. dramas hopefully it will be a Marcus Clay/Dimitri Karras/Nick Stefanos story like this one. And I hope Samuel L. Jackson plays Marcus Clay. Until then......
The third book in the author's DC quartet and just as good as the previous two. The dark, gritty crime story was lightened a bit by all the pop culture references and I actually knew most of the music ones for once.
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
The best Pelecanos book so far, it benefits from an absence of a true, single protagonist. The ensemble cast, without anyone getting really close to being a clean cut good guy, keeps the story moving. Pelecanos had often succeeded in drawing realistic characters but he has been equally consistent in ruining them with a forced redemptive ending, which made no sense from a character standpoint. This book bucks the trend, the redemption seems earned.

Self destructive Dimitri Karras; bigoted, self-de
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Had an itch to scratch in reading a Pelecanos book after watching The Deuce and this was recommended by the dudes from The Watch podcast. I find those two to be insufferable but I have to admit, they have good taste in crime fiction.

This might be my favorite effort of Pelecanos' after What It Was. Or perhaps I'm in a different place in my life and don't need my crime fiction to be so pulpy. Either way, it's a good read with good characters and a compelling plot set against rich descriptions of
Thomas Loudermilk
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
The worlds that Pelecanos writes about in his novels and his work on television are visceral, stemming from the reality of his observations of modern urban life. In "The Sweet Forever," Pelecanos presents his native Washington D.C. in the throws of the 1980's, rife with drugs, crime, racism, music, culture. Set in the middle of the 1986 NCAA basketball tournament, where Len Bias took the nation by storm before dying tragically from a cocaine overdose, "The Sweet Forever" shows what a truly great ...more
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Author George Pelecanos has done extensive work as a screenwriter for the hit HBO television show The Wire. The Sweet Forever seemed liked a pretty good episode of the hit HBO television show The Wire. I have never seen an episode of the hit HBO television show The Wire.
Michael Martz
Jul 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It feels odd to review a novel 13 years after its publication, but as I'm working my way through George Pelecanos' extensive catalog, I guess it's bound to happen. This is yet another example of his ability to take an incident that is just a part of life in a major city, a traffic accident, and create a masterful story about what really happened and its repercussions.

I won't go into the plot, which I'm sure you can glean from the product description on this site. What I like to do when I review
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-noir
"Murphy shot Ray in the chest, the dumdum bullet flattening on impact & punching out a fist sized through his back. Ray staggered, yanked at the trigger guard of the gun, yanked the trigger instead. He screamed as the round entered his groin & blew his balls to chowder, the muzzle flame igniting his pubes. Foam spilled from Ray's mouth as he pirouetted to the floor." - Ouch! Bet that smarted.

I thought the L.A. Quartet by James Ellroy would be hard to beat. I thought the Red Riding Quart
Sep 16, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
I read this book a couple of days, which is fast for me. It really drew me along, though i did skim the last, winding-down chapter. So why only two stars? There were a couple of stylistic things that started to bother me: mainly, the constant musical references. Hardly a page passed without the title of a song, and the name of the artist, being cited. Sometimes there'd be comments about the musicians, too. They felt arbitrary after a while, and like something extraneous intruding on the narrativ ...more
Sep 13, 2007 rated it liked it
George Pelecanos writes for The Wire and David Simon raves about him so he's been a 'to-read' for a while. I've finally read a few of his novels and this is my favorite. He writes about DC, the part that feels a lot like Baltimore, and this book, unlike his later ones, isn't strictly a crime novel. The backdrop of the book is the 1986 NCAA tournament - the year of Len Bias - and there are great thematic connections between the frenetic pace and unpredictability of the tournament, the 1980's coca ...more
Kurt Adam
Mar 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is the first Pelecanos book I've read, although I'm a fan of his writing on The Wire. This is a really snappy crime novel, although it weirded me out a little. The book is set in DC during the mid-80s, which I'm really familiar with as a resident. All of the little details like the long hall leading to the 930 Club as well as the larger background details like the scuttlebutt around Marion Berry's drug use and the impending arrival of crack were strange to read because of how familiar they ...more
Matthew Shoe
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
The third book of the D. C. Quartet series, set in 1986, finds record store owner, Marcus Clay, and long-time friend, Dimitri Karras, in trouble again with local drug gangs. Clay plays the imperfect moral compass, while Karras continues a downward spiral: leading a tawdry life of sex and drugs, slowly killing himself coasting from one cocaine high to the next. By the end, Clay is given new hope and Karras reaches a major life decision point. Good story, with an earnest start, sympathetic charact ...more
Washington Post
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This gritty crime novel set on U Street in 1986 shows the darkest side of Washington’s recent history.

“Marcus Clay and George Dozier sat at the counter of the Florida Avenue Grill, located at the corner of 11th and Florida on the tip of Shaw. They had seen each other at church, as they did every Sunday, and Clay had followed Dozier to the grill for a late breakfast. They sat on red stools where the counter jutted in, back toward the swinging kitchen door. Along the wall, front to back, above the
Michael Donnelly
Apr 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Period piece set in Washington DC in 1986. Unfortunately I endured this time personally, so the trip down memory lane wasn't so much fun. Pelecanos leans a little heavily on period detail - the NCAA basketball tournament, the music, and clothing for instance - perhaps too much.

The book is a morality play, and for that genre, does its work well. I won't go into detail as it would ruin the reader's experience, but the story works.

Dialogue here seemed problematic - and if I took out the ethnic tagl
Jun 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this in small chunks over nearly 3 weeks, and am convinced I would've enjoyed it considerably more had that not been the case - a good part due to the number of characters to keep track of, but also just the pacing itself. 3rd of the D.C. quartet (or 6th of the Nick Stefanos world, depending on one's view), again a slice of the street, corruption, good intentions... replete with local reference (seriously? name-checking a member of the Insect Surfers? that's cred right there). This one oc ...more
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
At first I was not sure I would like this book because some of the language is quite vulgar/explicit and I was sort of worried what people would think if they read over my shoulder the subway. But the story was actually great, I like how it told the same events over 3 days from the perspectives of different people.
Theodore Kinni
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another good read by Pelecanos. I like the way he tracks the development of his characters and DC over the years in his books. But the story never really changes--the streets are mean and even the heros are flawed.
Ask Eirik Storsve
Jun 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Another great book in the DC Quartet. At some point, while listening to the audio version, I was driving down U street while the story took place on the same street. Local flair is everywhere!
Andrew Chandler
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction-crime
Pelecanos wrote some of the episodes for the television show The Wire, so I expected similar quality. The audiobook I listened to suffered from the worst narrarator I’ve ever listened to (I almost stopped the book several times because of it), but even accounting for that, this book didn’t live up to The Wire.

Set in Washington DC in the 80’s and focused on gangs and the infiltration of cocaine in the community, this story and the characters are no longer original. Beyond that, I was constantly
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In one type of sailboat race, boats sail a set course around buoys spread over a large expanse of water. For most of the race, boats dot the water in a seemingly random pattern, each pursuing its own course through wind and waves. Then, in a breathtakingly short period, they all converge to go around the same buoy and all hell breaks loose. Crews scramble to change direction, moving massive sails and spars and trying to avoid other boats doing the same thing. Boats that were miles apart are sudd ...more
Christian Dibblee
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really excellent book. Set in D.C., Pelecanos does a great job describing the city and its transition during the Home Rule periods, particularly in the U Street and Shaw neighborhoods. The plot is believable, pockmarked with characters who find themselves often in the same boat: fighting against a lifestyle that their city imposes on them. That lifestyle is the drug life, one where teens are drug runners for a local kingpin and local dirty cops must confront their complicity in the city's decay. ...more
Probably I should not have started with this one, but it was a book club read, so I was not expecting it to be in the middle of a series. Engaging and fast, with surprisingly vivid characters. (And occasionally gruesomely vivid descriptions... I won’t soon forget the “lobster meat” of a ravaged arm or a certain bit of anatomy turned to “chowder”.)

Hmm, I’m working my way up to a 4 star rating, but this didn’t quite land with me. There was something a little too macho and distancing about it, a ki
Nov 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
Pelecanos has an enormous following, probably because of the immersive worlds he creates. But I didn't like that world at all -- Pelecanos' DC in the mid-1980s is brutally sexist, racist, drug-infested, and all around unpleasant. I can deal with darkness and violence in books, but there has to be something interesting as a counterpoint -- plot, characters, *something* -- and I didn't find that here. The interchanges about that year's NCAA basketball tournament feel interminable, but at least, wh ...more
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George Pelecanos was born in Washington, D.C. in 1957. He worked as a line cook, dishwasher, bartender, and woman's shoe salesman before publishing his first novel in 1992.

Pelecanos is the author of eighteen novels set in and around Washington, D.C.: A Firing Offense, Nick's Trip, Shoedog, Down By the River Where the Dead Men Go, The Big Blowdown, King Suckerman, The Sweet Forever, Shame the Devil
More about George Pelecanos

Other books in the series

D.C. Quartet (4 books)
  • The Big Blowdown
  • King Suckerman
  • Shame the Devil

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