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Hell to Pay

(Derek Strange & Terry Quinn #2)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  2,366 ratings  ·  134 reviews
Derek Strange and Terry Quinn, the team of private investigators who made their stunning debut in Right As Rain, are hired to find a 14-year-old white girl from the suburbs who's run away from home and is now working as a prostitute. The two ex-cops think they know D.C.'s dangers, but nothing in their experience has prepared them for Worldwide Wilson, the pimp whose territ ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published February 23rd 2011 by Back Bay Books (first published 2002)
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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,366 ratings  ·  134 reviews

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Dan Schwent
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one makes me regret never taking up a read of Pelecanos. He felt like a rock I didn’t want to turn over to witness the squirm of scorpions and slugs. But he makes life in the mean streets of Washington, D.C., a microcosm worth attending to. The teen-aged prostitutes’ struggles to get by has its own form of heroism, and the tough young punks on the way up to gang membership are driven by the same urge to find meaning in action and simulated families as the rest of humanity.

In this world Pel
Jul 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting to see that other readers do not find Hell to Pay and Right as Rain as high up on their approval list as I do. I just finished reading Hell to Pay and found it even stronger than the first one. Now the cat is out of the bag, too, as in searching for the book on the Goodreads library I see that there is a third novel, perhaps completing a trilogy with the same cast of characters. I see the recently checked out Pelecanos from my library is the final one. That means I'm going to be stuc ...more
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
HELL TO PAY by George Pelecanos is the second book in the 'Derek Strange & Terry Quinn’ series following Right as Rain, and further establishes the unlikely friendship of two very different men that work well together in spite of their differences to form a loose partnership that is effective.

Garfield Potter is a violent young man trying to make a name for himself in his neighborhood where he and his two partners deal dope and the story opens at a dog fight where they own one of the dogs.
A painstaking mural of the metamorphosis of Washington DC from a metropolis to murder-polis whose inhabitants are at once menacing and heart warming. It's this chalk and cheese persona of Pelecanos' characters that draws a somewhat translucent line between good and evil in the third world urban sprawl of the major US city. Victims of circumstance turned hardened thugs turned kid killers find themselves the focus of PI Derek Strange as he seeks the right kind of justice for the murder of an innoc ...more
Jul 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my second George Pelecanos novel, but my first outing with the team of Derek Strange and Terry Quinn. This one is apparently the second in the Strange/Quinn series, so I am reading these out of order, but it didn’t seem to make a nickel’s worth of difference. It was easy to fall right into step with these two guys.

A little bit hip and quite a bit old-school, Derek Strange is a 50-ish ex-cop with a store-front business called Strange Investigations (love it!), who values his old vinyl r
Feb 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
another addictive pelecanos novel (my second). this basically deepens the universe created in right as rain, and does a nice job propping up its next installment (soul circus, which i'll undoubtedly get to in the coming months). this one has less of the sensational shoot 'em up stuff that sometimes scars the plausibility of right as rain, choosing instead to get inside the heads of each of its characters. very effective as a portrait of poverty, particularly in its look at characters on the peri ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Larry Bassett
Aug 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, fiction
What can I say? I love George Pelacanos. But tears in my eyes at the end of Hell to Pay? It was too much like And They All Lived Happily Ever After, wasn’t it?

With Pelacanos, language is never plain or simple. It is always dressed up in descriptive adjectives and proper nouns. Product placement is a Pelacanos trademark. Hell to Pay is like a guided tour of metropolitan DC and its suburbs. And, of course, the Wheaton Mall appears in its usual cameo role. As does Bonifant Street and Sligo Avenue i
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here, Strange and Quinn are both former Metropolitan Police Department Officers. Strange is an older African-American man who keeps his office right in the city on Bonifant Avenue as sort of an example to younger men in the area. Quinn is Caucasian and a bit younger than Strange. Quinn left the police force after a controversial shooting in which internal affairs found his actions to be “right as rain.” This story takes place some time after the events in “Right as Rain” and Quinn now has a priv ...more
May 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2002-reads
RATING: 4.25

Derek Strange, owner of Strange Investigations, is a solid citizen in his Washington, DC, neighborhood. He’s been in business for over 25 years and serves as a role model to the young black people of the community. He continues to give back to his neighborhood, doing things such as coaching Pee Wee football and trying to show kids there are choices besides gangs and drugs.

Strange works with Janine Baker, his office manager and a woman who he loves but not well enough; Ron Lattimer, a
Jul 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The second Derek Strange novel. While his hot-headed white partner, Terry Quinn, is hired to rescue a runaway girl from a pimp, Strange gets involved in a high-profile murder case after one of the young boys on his peewee football team is shot. With the police closing in fast, Strange must decide whether he wants the arrogant gang bangers who did the shooting to be arrested, or suffer the rough justice of a vicious drug dealer who has a personal interest in the case.

It’s another solid crime stor
Pamela Mclaren
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
This is a gritty, dark tale situated in the heart of our nation's capital; a story about a neighborhood and the men who are fighting to help its children survive, but to survive and get out, to be productive citizens, not drug dealers, prostitutes and pimps. Its a hard life but Derek Strange is fighting it with something that the kids can understand: sports. But in the case of one child, it isn't enough.

Strange and Terry Quinn, both ex-cops know that they did their best but the they also know t
John Culuris
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-shelf
There’s a Stephen King quote on the cover of the next Pelecanos books I plan to read: “Perhaps the greatest living American crime writer.” I’m only two books in but I tend to agree. I was so impressed with A Firing Offense that I picked up this one though it is out of series order. Doesn’t matter. I wanted more.
Marty Fried
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Another down to earth and gritty visit to the D.C. underbelly (no, not the White House), where Black Lives don't matter, except to the readers. I personally felt the pain of these people, especially the young blacks who have few choices in life, and staying alive every day is the number one choice. This story was really sad when a young boy is shot and killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The really sad thing is that it's also hard not to feel bad for the boys that shot him. Th ...more
Del Johnstone
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Right as Rain, the first Strange & Quinn, four or five years back, and I'm not sure why I haven't been back before now; I guess it's just the eternal headache - so many books, so little time.

The main crux of the story here will be depressingly familiar to anyone with a even passing knowledge of the horrible self-perpetuating cycle of poverty/drugs/black on black gun crime that plagues some U.S. inner cities. This came out in 2003 but it could have been published this year. Pelecanos i
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I read this year's ago, and just started to re-read Pelecanos last week. I'd forgotten how good his books were, the mood he sets, the complexity of the characters. I can't wait to get the next.
Renato Rodriguez
I love the way Pelecanos writes. It puts you right in the scene, with the music, the smells, the weather, the food. He's next to Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane, one of the best crime novelists writing today. I can't wait to keep reading about Derek Strange and Terry Quinn.
Mark Petersen
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As always with this writer, great characterization, plotting, and suspense.
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really fast paced urban gritty tale of murder, and everyday life on the streets of D.C. "Hell to Pay" by George Pelecanos, features protagonist P.I. Derek Strange along with partner Terry Quinn battling the evil elements of life, and chaos on the streets of D.C. just to survive. Strange and Quinn also run the local football program for the neighborhood kids. In the midst of Strange's investigating a background check for a client, one of his football kids is gunned down. Strange and Quinn go to ...more
May 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second in a trilogy by George Pelecanos, the first being Right as Rain. We meet Derek Strange and Terry Quinn again, both private investigators in Washington, DC, both former cops and both men with the desire to do the right thing and help the kids in the area to break out of the cycle of poverty, drugs and violence. Troubled by demons themselves, the story is as much about their personal crises and journey through life as it is the story of a tragic shooting death and the search for ...more
Dec 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Coaches of underprivileged little league football teams
The fact that I enjoy these George Pelecanos books so much doesn't make me the equivalent of guys in prison who shank people for the latest James Patterson, does it? (There was a big thing in the Times a while back about how those books are written and who reads them. You should look it up. It's one of the more ridiculous things you'll ever read.) I feel like these books are a cut above the average crime fiction BS, because they describe things that are really happening in the ghetto (I'm assumi ...more
Nov 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
its like

This guy walks in, like muscular and lean, head shaved, OJ grin, hard eyes. Moves loose and lithe, but quick like a cat. His athleticism is apparent, his intentions a mystery. His smile lights up, he spots his homies, he grins and he talks, but his cold eyes keep scanning the room and then just for a second your eyes cross.

But that second is enough for you to realize, somthin' easy, somethin' prophetic

You ain't supposed to be here.

And, thats the way it goes, first, casual and loose then
(#2 of the Derek Strange series)-This was a really good one. Better than #1. Derek is coaching a football team. One of the kids gets shot by a thug. Derek and his partner go on their own search for this guy. In the mean time, Derek is asked to help find a runaway turned hooker. He puts Quinn on the case.
Derek is battling a weakness for massage tables and really starts to question his life.
These books tell a hard story of the DC streets. They are excellent in drawing the picture and putting you
Jun 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
A nice tight procedural - no mystery. This is a multi-ethnic portrait of one segment of Washington, D C. Pelecanos lays out some of the many issues facing the Capitol city. Racism predominantly among them. He does a very nice job with the various settings and the music and the culture. At times a little too simplistic and obvious, but not always. I recommend this writer and this book.
Ken Schloman
Apr 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Second book of the series, and the author does did not miss a beat. Many series go down hill as they progress. This novel actually is a step up. It's gritty and tells a story of Washington DC that tourists don't see. Pelacanos puts the reader into the mind of the character. You see what the character sees. You feel what the character feels. I highly recommend anything he writes.
Originally read, July '08: I see the formula, but it doesn't bother me in the least. He just knows how to tell a good story.

Recently read, January '14: I had no recollection of having read this before. That bothers me a bit, but not much, because I have read several other Pelecanoses since then and now have a much more robust appreciation of him and the genre. This leads to longer musings in the once-terse review, so brace yourself. I doubt I'm going to forget having read this one again.

Nov 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very low 3 stars. If you loved his earlier works like The Big Blowdown, as I did, this might be a disappointment. This is more of the thriller genre, similar to Lehane and Connelly (I don't like either). I think I read somewhere that this led to Pelecanos getting hired to write for The Wire, and I can see a bit of the Wire in Hell to Pay. But The Wire is better. Also, I would never want to re-read this or re-watch The Wire, while I'm sure I will go back to The Big Blowdown at least onc ...more
Julie  Greene
This is not really my kind of book. I read it because a book challenge I do with friends had one category, "book by a local author," and I wanted to fulfill it with a Silver Spring writer. Not DC or Baltimore. Pelecanos is surely SS's most prolific and best known writer. He has written many books, and was a key writer for The Wire and for Treme. This was a pretty good detective novel, I guess. Fast moving. Evocative. Good politics. And it was fun to have a lot of SS, MoCo, and DC spots discussed ...more
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. We all know that sequels are never as good as the original (except for Empire...), so I went in with a slightly lower expectation. This was a close call, though. Almost a full 4 stars. I enjoy Pelecanos' command of his characters and their drive. The morals and strength they have is so visceral and it feels like a real person is behind their choices.
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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

Other books in the series

Derek Strange & Terry Quinn (5 books)
  • Right as Rain (Derek Strange and Terry Quinn #1)
  • Soul Circus (Derek Strange and Terry Quinn, #3)
  • Hard Revolution
  • What It Was
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