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Hell To Pay Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Length: 362 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Amazon.co.uk Review

Pelecanos' new book, Hell To Pay, demonstrates that, as a key player in the film production company that creates the quirky movies of the Coen Brothers, he can give that duo a run for their money when it comes to bizarrely fractured narratives and idiosyncratic dialogue. This exhilarating piece marks another appearance for private investigators Derek Strange and Terry Quinn, who tread the meaner streets of Washington in the course of their dangerous work.

An apparently senseless death rocks the capital, and Strange finds himself personally involved in a bitter hunt for the killers. As he closes in, Derek finds the very tenets that guide his existence on the line, and only he can resolve a conflict that involves lacerating self-examination. Strange's wrestling with his personal problems is handled by Pelecanos with all the psychological acuity we expect from him, and the set-pieces are dispatched with the panache that is the author's hallmark:

Potter swung the gun so quickly that it lost its shape in the light. He slashed it across the brow of the man, the blow knocking the cap off his head. The man's hand went to his face, blood seeping through his fingers immediately and he stumbled back against the wall. Potter flipped the gun in the air and caught it on the half turn, so that he held it by the barrel. He moved forward...
--Barry Forshaw

Amazon Review

Pelecanos' new book, Hell To Pay, demonstrates that, as a key player in the film production company that creates the quirky movies of the Coen Brothers, he can give that duo a run for their money when it comes to bizarrely fractured narratives and idiosyncratic dialogue. This exhilarating piece marks another appearance for private investigators Derek Strange and Terry Quinn, who tread the meaner streets of Washington in the course of their dangerous work.

An apparently senseless death rocks the capital, and Strange finds himself personally involved in a bitter hunt for the killers. As he closes in, Derek finds the very tenets that guide his existence on the line, and only he can resolve a conflict that involves lacerating self-examination. Strange's wrestling with his personal problems is handled by Pelecanos with all the psychological acuity we expect from him, and the set-pieces are dispatched with the panache that is the author's hallmark:

Potter swung the gun so quickly that it lost its shape in the light. He slashed it across the brow of the man, the blow knocking the cap off his head. The man's hand went to his face, blood seeping through his fingers immediately and he stumbled back against the wall. Potter flipped the gun in the air and caught it on the half turn, so that he held it by the barrel. He moved forward...
--Barry Forshaw

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 796 KB
  • Print Length: 362 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; New Ed edition (30 Dec. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004GHN3L6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #118,184 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The Urban landscape of America's cities is not a pretty one. Drugs are rife and arrive in an unstoppable tide. Some people try to stand above it like Terry Strange a man brought up in the roughest parts of Washington, but trying his best to stay straight as a PI. George P. Pelecanos uses the language of the street to paint his descriptions. It's clear that he knows what goes on in the grimy parts of the city and uses it to infuse a crime novel with character. In places this `Hell to Pay' almost feels like a novelisation of `The Wire' (a show Pelecanos was part of), but lacks the energy that the show possesses.

I find Pelecanos' books like the jazz records that Strange listens to. Having read one or two I started to realise the nuances that play through them. `Hell to Pay' is not a book that jumps straight into the action, or even the main story. It is not until the half way point that a true narrative comes in. The start of the book is all about setting up the story and adding character; this will appear to some people more than others. I found it a little slow, but having read a couple of his books the style is really starting to grow on me. Strange and Quinn are two great characters with as many issues as the people they are investigating and Pelecanos manages to balance their work and home life just right. With an explosive finale the book is certainly worth a read, but you may have to struggle through the first half to get there.
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Format: Hardcover
The second in the Strange/Quinn series is every bit as good as its predecessor, though this time Pelecanos allows his two storylines to diverge. Here Terry Quinn, the volatile Irish ex-cop, and black P.I. Derek Strange are driven to investigate separate crimes - both of them doing for their own selfish reasons as much as for the victims of the crimes themslves. Quinn's investigation is (as you'd expect)liberally spiced with nerve-racking descriptions of physical violence. To my mind Strange is the more interesting character, a deeply moral man struggling to do right and to set a good example to the inner-city kids on the football team he and Quinn coach. The sense of horror he feel at the climax of his story, as he finds himself unwilling witness to a showdown of his engineering, is a stunning piece of writing.
This series is proving every bit as powerful as Pelecanos' earlier D.C. Quartet and, while I still long for the return of alcoholic P.I. Nick Stefanos, you have to admire the man for knowing when to leave his characters be. Pelecanos' powers show no sign of diminishing and, as the recent republication of the "lost" novel Shoedog proves, he is pretty much incapable of writing a dud book. His one weakness is that his female characters are not as fully realised as his male protagonists, but this is a book about men involved in violent situations and about male friendships. If you have any interest in US crime writing then this is as good a place as any to introduce yourself to the Peckinpah of crime fiction.
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Format: Paperback
I have long been a fan of George Pelecanos, whose gritty, urban novels, set in areas of Washington, DC, which do not appear on tourists' itineraries, are peopled by some of the most realistic characters in contemporary fiction - the honest working poor, the disenfranchised, as well as the career criminal. The author consistently sets a high standard of authenticity, especially in terms of what life is about growing up in the projects and on the mean streets, where the sub-culture and economy of illegal substances are always good for a lift. Without making apologies or excuses, Pelecanos is the rare writer who enables readers to empathize, at times, with even the most hardcore criminal - although there is an unusually nasty human predator here.
Derek Strange, is a black, middle class, middle-aged man, a former cop and a successful private investigator. Although tough, his heart is in the right place. Derek has worked before with Irish ex-cop, turned PI, Terry Quinn, in "Right As Rain." The two detectives hook up again in "Hell to Pay," to find a fourteen year-old girl who has run away from her home in middle class suburbia, and is determined to be the star hooker for one of DC's most vicious "handlers." The two are interrupted, mid-investigation, by the merciless drive-by shooting of one of the neighborhood kids. The boy, ten-year Joe Wilder, was a most promising member of the peewee football team that Strange and Quinn coach. He was also a good candidate for life outside the projects. Devastated by the death, and the feelings the loss triggers, Strange becomes a man on a mission to personally take down the killers.
Pelecanos delves into the private lives of both Strange and Quinn, which makes for a richer narrative, and gives the reader more insight into these two protagonists.
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By A. Ross TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 18 Oct. 2002
Format: Hardcover
I've lived in DC for 20 years, my family is from here, and Pelecanos is only the second author I’ve come across who writes about the DC that I know and recognize (the other is Edward Jones, check out his story collection “Lost in the City” if you can find it). In his tenth book, middle-aged PI Derek Strange and younger white ex-cop Terry Quinn return for their second tour of DC's mean streets following Right as Rain.
If the theme of that last book was racism, this one's is hopelessness. The two main stories revolve around teenagers who have lost any sense of hope and whose existence has spiraled into ugliness from which they are incapable of breaking free. One of these stories follows three boys as they peddle hydro (pot), boost cars, bet o dogfights, listen to tunes, eat fast food, and eventually commit murder. The trio are emblematic of many kids who grow up in the ghetto, with no fathers, no guidance, and ultimately no hope. All they have is their street rep and a resignation that they will die young. When they murder someone close to Strange, he races to identify and track them down before the police do. The other story revolves around a nasty pimp (as if there's any other kind) who specializes in teenage talent, and what happens when Quinn helps a prostitution support group try and extract one of the girls and take her home.
The antidote to this theme of hopelessness is Strange and Quinn's coaching a neighborhood Pee-Wee football team where they try to teach the boys the right way to live and to see that life holds possibilities for them. Of course, as in all Pelecanos' books, there's a running dark tone that lets the reader know there are few happy endings in this world.
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