Top positive review
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Another gem from the finest of contemporary US crime writers
on 30 November 2001
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.