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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Washington in the 40s
We follow the fortunes of Peter Karras, a Greek American living in Washington DC, before, during and after World War II. After coming out of the war a hero, Karras, along with his childhood friend Joe Recevo, finds himself drifting along, occasionally providing muscle for the Mafia in their protection rackets. When Karras makes the mistake of showing leniency towards one...
Published on 10 Sep 2001

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars The story is excellent, just a bad edition with missing pages.
The book's pages 221-285 were replaced by pages 30-95 for one reason or another. The actual story is was great and an excellent read. Avoid the Serpent's tail Five Star edition of this book though.
Published 19 months ago by Antti Soikkeli


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Washington in the 40s, 10 Sep 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Big Blowdown (Five Star) (Paperback)
We follow the fortunes of Peter Karras, a Greek American living in Washington DC, before, during and after World War II. After coming out of the war a hero, Karras, along with his childhood friend Joe Recevo, finds himself drifting along, occasionally providing muscle for the Mafia in their protection rackets. When Karras makes the mistake of showing leniency towards one of his boss's "clients", it's inevitable that he has to be taught a (painful) lesson. The story is ultimately a commentary on how the two friends deal with the different directions their lives have taken, particularly when their paths cross again.
The mood of the time and place are captured with remarkable vividness. Even the street noises are described in such a way that it almost feels as if we are there watching the drama unfold in front of us. I feel this is the defining novel for George Pelecanos and a must read for Pelecanos fans. I can't recommend it highly enough without appearing to gush, so I'll just say that it's a fantastic piece of American literature that manages to capture the 40's very nicely.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and Dark. Utterly Brilliant, 6 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Big Blowdown (Paperback)
I never thought I would find another author to rival James Ellroy - but I've found the only real contender.
This novel starts slowly then interleaves several character-driven stories leading to an unforgetable climax. Pelecanos clearly loves his tarnished characters and they inhabit a brilliantly realised, seedy Washington of the 1940's.
This is the sort of noir where you can smell the cigarette smoke and taste the bourbon. I read it in two days and I've just ordered all his other novels.
Superlatives galour!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars glorious pup fiction, 19 Aug 2009
This review is from: The Big Blowdown (Five Star) (Paperback)
My first Pelecanos -but not the last- I had been intrigued by the reviews and the link to the Wire.
Pelecanos has a great ear for dialogue and superb characterisation, bringing scenes and characters to life in a cinematic fashion which is rarely contrived. Hard men, (and as a central character a Spartan hero in 40's DC) going through tough times, fast cars and fast women as cool jazz music goes on the radio. Think of Kiss Me Deadly or the Big Combo, with scenes from Once upon a Time in America and Cotton Club...
Beyond the masterly dialogue lies a sympathy for characters and the rare ability to make you care, after only a couple of pages. Women's characterisation is not exactly subtle -and one character's obsession with nuclear carnage rings fake- , but as far as fantasy and sexual tension go, give them full marks. Sophisticated pulp fiction that left me wanting for more, purchasing the next three from the DC quartet in order to get my new Pelecanos fix. Shouldyou try it? Mosdef!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, 23 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Big Blowdown (Paperback)
Well developed characters and a remarkable sense of place and time make this book a real treat. Pelecanos avoids all the usual "ethnic" and genre clichés and develops a fascinating mosaic of characters in post-war America. This was my first Pelecanos book but certainly not the last!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simply brilliant, 30 Jan 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Big Blowdown (Five Star) (Paperback)
pelecanos captures the atmosphere of post war washington and portrays the characters against an emerging social structure. The hero is a typical "noir" character, with understated violent tendencies, coupled with a strong belief in what is "right". Typically flawed, the hero, Karris, takes us on a journey through his brief life from childhood, in a poor, immigrant neighbourhood, culminating in his inevitable destiny. Suviving superbly described horrors in the pacific theatre of the 2nd world war, Pelecanos conveys, via Karris, the problems faced by the non "american" population of washington as they attempt to forge a new working life in the USA, after the war. The plot is sufficiently diverse without becoming confusing, and I found myself sympathising with the characters and their dilemmas. I have read Mosley, Burke etc and found this to be the most refreshing novel in a long time. Bring on the rest of the DC Quartet.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cracking, 2 Dec 2001
This review is from: The Big Blowdown (Five Star) (Paperback)
This was the first Pelecanos novel I've read, and it reminded me of discovering Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosely or A Morning for Flamingoes by James Lee Burke. This is American crime writing at its best. Great plot, characterisation, atmosphere and credibility. If you're into this type of novel, then The Big Blowdown is an absolute must.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing implosion of elements, 14 Nov 2000
By A Customer
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This review is from: The Big Blowdown (Paperback)
Superbly written and fast paced, you're right there on the streets of DC just after the war. The episodic broken timeline of the first few sections is heart rending and thrilling in its almost filmic detail, giving way to an amazing implosion of elements at the end. I read about this book first in Time Out's sparse, but always spot-on, weekly book review. I loved it and can't recommend it highly enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pelecanos delivers again, 8 Jun 2007
This review is from: The Big Blowdown (Five Star) (Paperback)
George Pelecanos is one of the finest crime writers around. I agree with a previous reviewer that he combines classic noir style with a real insight into the dynamics of a multi-cultural society. I loved this book. The characterisation is fantastic, the pace is relentless and the plot intelligent. The Big Blowdown brings classic crime writing bang up-to-date.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars James Ellroy meets Raymond Chandler's Greek cousin!, 10 April 2004
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P. D. Copley (Bromley, London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Big Blowdown (Five Star) (Paperback)
Simply superb - the best novel I've read in years.
This is like early Ellroy, before he went virtually unreadably staccato - pure noir, wisecracking, big city street life, with a bit of Greek and DC to make it refreshingly different.
This is the first Pelecanos I've read, and I'm now going to devour his other books - on the basis of the Big Blowdown, I won't be disappointed.
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2.0 out of 5 stars The story is excellent, just a bad edition with missing pages., 15 Feb 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Big Blowdown (Five Star) (Paperback)
The book's pages 221-285 were replaced by pages 30-95 for one reason or another. The actual story is was great and an excellent read. Avoid the Serpent's tail Five Star edition of this book though.
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