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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 August 2001
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 Edward Jones, check out his story collection "Lost in the City" if you can find it). In this new book, he steps away from his established characters Nick Stefanos and Dmitri Karras, and launches a new duo, black, middle-aged PI Derek Strange, and younger, white ex-cop Terry Quinn. Through them, and the story of Chris Wilson, an off-duty black cop shot by Quinn, Pelecanos displays the racial awkwardness and tension that pervades Washington, D.C. The central message of the book is that everyone, regardless of race, carries preconceptions with them about other groups. That doesn't make them racist-that term is reserved for those who carry hatred in their hearts.
Strange is hired to investigate the shooting of her son, Chris Wilson, leading him to Quinn, who works in a little used bookstore in Silver Spring (Like all the locations in the book, the store really exists, it's a few blocks from my office and I sometimes swing by on my lunch break). The two men fall into an uneasy partnership as this discover more about he events that led to Quinn's killing of Wilson. They make an engagingly effective odd couple as they verbally spar with one another about race, underneath their respective flaws, they're good men. At the same time, both men are struggling to make relationships work, Strange with his divorcee secretary, and Quinn with a Latina student/waitress. As with most of Pelecanos's men, they often make selfish or simply clumsy moves in looking for love. And like most of those same guys, they have well-defined tastes in music, cars, movies, and books.
Following the tone of Pelecanos's previous work, what is gradually revealed is a sordid tale of drugs and corruption, with some powerful drug pushers, and a few violent rednecks. All this unfolds in a world instantly recognizable to Washington natives, where drug dealers work in the open, neighborhoods revolve around local restaurants, and corruption has spread to even the upscale oases (the well-known high-end restaurant Red Sage being one example). As we have come to expect from Pelecanos, everything comes together in a cinematic violent climax offering some attempt at justice. If you've read and enjoyed previous books of his, you're likely to enjoy this one as well. It's got two great new characters, and is a bit more explicit in examining racism, but is otherwise very much in keeping with his previous work.
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VINE VOICEon 1 June 2009
My introduction to Pelecanos was The Big Blowdown a brilliant noir novel that reads like a lost classic from the '40's, and from his work on The Wire. I picked this up in a charity shop and couldn't wait to start reading it, but what a disappointment it turned out to be.A very straightforward private detective mystery thriller sub Dennis Lehane's Kenzie/Genaro novels.The twist this time is that the twosome are middle aged black hipster Derek Strange and cool white dude Terry Quinn. Did I say twist?Well only if you don't remember the '60's and Bill Cosby and Robert Culp in I Spy and Hickey & Boggs, tv show and movie respectively and both infinitely superior to this in exploring the dynamic between black and white. And bringing things more up to date it's very hard to believe from reading this that Pelecanos has anything to do with the superlative The Wire.

The plot is very obvious and I didn't find any of the characters interesting or colourful enough to forget how humdrum much of the dialogue was.The constant music, book and film references seemed less about giving the characters added depth and more about showing how hip Pelecanos thinks he is.Thirty pages from the end I found myself struggling to finish the damn thing.I won't be reading any more of this series, but The Big Blowdown was so good I'll certainly be checking out his other work.
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on 2 August 2007
I have been reading pretty much everything that Pelecanos has written but this is my first foray into reading his Quinn and Strange books and I think it is an okay book with all the usual Pelacanos ingredients: music references, car culture and a bit of Greek when he can lever it in.

It's the first book in the Strange series and introduces the two (pretty clichéd, to be honest)leads. They seem to be walking stereotypes, but I am honestly not that bothered about that. The plot itself is pretty humdrum and I worked out most of it by mid way through. What does feature, though, is Pelecanos' gift for dialogue and scene setting and he is very, very good at both of these. It's sassy and cool and just makes you want to walk the streets of DC. Pelecanos obviously loves his city and sticks with the maxim that one should write about what they know: I like his creative honesty in that respect.

I have ordered the next in the series because I like his style of writing - but to be brutally honest this is not one of his best books. If you want a proper introduction to Pelecanos read the Washington Quartet (starting with The Big Blowdown) - those books are what Pelecanos is all about.
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on 16 January 2010
This was my first venture into George P. and I must confess to being somewhat underwhelmed as he is undoubtedly hugely popular. I enjoyed the book but wouldn't classify it as any sort of classic as it is extremely cliched. The "good guys" are a black guy - white guy couple with lots of author asides about race which didn't impress. The "bad guys" are fairly obvious "redneck" types who listen to country music and sell drugs and kill people in that order.Pelecanos spends too much time describing Strange's (the P.I.)choice in music. This adds nothing to the story and is an annoying mannerism.The plot is well worked and the ending is solid but there are fairly obvious nods to the "screenplay" hopes with the obligatory lovemaking scenes and the conclusion paving the way for the follow-up. I will read more of his books but he won't replace my favourite crime authors - Rankin, Connolly and Ellroy. Not essential reading.
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on 5 March 2001
I found this story of a veteran P.I who's hired to find the truth behind the killing of a black off-duty cop by a fellow white officer almost impossible to put down. The dialogue is razor sharp, along with a granite-tough plot which keeps you interested till the end. Also their is a delightful mix of politics, history and even sociology in this crime novel, while avoiding what could turn out to be purely about racism. Combined together it keeps you turning the pages.
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on 17 June 2011
This book would probably be quite a good holiday read, but it is not exactly a page-turner. Some of the characters interesting enough, but the plot itself simply wasn't that gripping.
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VINE VOICEon 22 September 2007
Right as Rain is the first in a series of private investigator books by George Pelecanos. The series focuses on Derek Strange a lifetime resident of Washington DC (on the other side to the hotels, politicians and state buildings) and ex-cop. Strange has been working as a PI in his neighbourhood for years and is well known. He is approached by a woman to investigate the death of her son, Chris Wilson. He was killed by another cop, Terry Quinn, in an officer involved shooting. Quinn has quit the police force and is struggling to come to terms with the accusations of racism that followed the shooting. When Strange questions him he starts to get involved in the investigation himself.

Strange is not a typical hard boiled private investigator. He's older, somewhat wiser, more laid back, black, doesn't carry a gun and is driven by a mysterious guilty conscience coupled with a desire to help people in his neighbourhood. Not that he's perfect, like all fictional investigators he enjoys a taste. He's also a commitment phobe who is dating his secretary but has a proclivity for massage parlours. On his own Strange is a great character and would be enough to hold together a good book. Coupling and contrasting with the Quinn character adds another layer of depth and makes for a great read. Quinn is a man on the edge who enjoys violence and is desperate to prove he's not a racist.

Underpinning the two characters is a reasonable mystery plot but the characters are the primary focus. The book is given an authentic air by Pelecanos' ear for smart and funny dialogue alongside the detail put into both the locations and the music and films the characters talk about. The supporting cast are also fully realised characters in their own right spanning a series of corrupt cops, Strange's co-workers and his family of sorts.

I've read that Pelecanos has sold the film rights for the Strange series to Curtis Hanson (LA Confidential) who has had David Benioff (who wrote the 25th Hour) script an adaptation of Right as Rain. Samuel L. Jackson has been rumoured as Strange - slightly obvious choice but I still think these books could make a great movie.
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on 21 February 2016
Kept me going
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VINE VOICEon 7 September 2006
This is my first Pelecanos novel. I normally read a book this size in a week, this one took me 5. Not that its a bad book, its just not that rivetting and moves quite slowly all the way through.

It brings together fairly sterotyped PI's. 2 ex policemen 1 black and 1 white. Its Lethal weapon without the humour.

The stoty is based around a drug dealing environment and was very surprised and dissapointed that at 1 time, one of the main characters actually took some.

The good points are that it is quite well written and does set the reader up for a possibly good partnership in future books. The characters are developed through out the book, and the ending leaves you knowing that there is more to explore in future books.

I enjoyed it enough that I will probably take another Pelecanos off the shelf to see how the charaters are developed further.
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on 11 December 2001
"Right as rain" is another very good Pelecanos thriller. The author is recognizable and is still faithful to the space where his novels take place: Washignton DC; and he also continues to deal with the issues of drugs, racism, immigration etc. However he is getting more mature and this novel flows beautifully.
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