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Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
28
The Turnaround
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on 18 December 2012
The first Pelecanos I've read.
A well-crafted, Washington D.C-set story of the past catching up with the present. Plausible, low key - if somewhat two-dimensional - characters; mechanics, sandwich shop owners, physical therapists. Ordinary guys trying to make up for past mistakes and do the best they can.
A refreshing absence of gimmicks - the last crime book I read had two deadly children as well as an adult serial killer and another male psycho.
But there's a moral simplicity, a sentimentality to 'The Turnaround' (the clue's in the title) - if basically good men do the right thing, then life can be better - that may please crowds, but rings false. The world just isn't that neat.
Worryingly too, the story has no real tension. Too many people are too nice. The one 'bad guy', Charles Baker, is no true threat to anyone.
A good read, but no masterpiece.
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on 25 June 2014
This was my first attempt at any of George Pelecanos' work and I confess that I was drawn by the reference to his contributions to 'The Wire' and to some of the glowing 5-star reviews. One reviewer mentioned the story's similarly to Lehane's 'Mystic River' and this, too, was a factor in my decision to buy. Sadly, Mr Pelecanos falls short - in this book, anyway - of Dennis Lehane's work, both in style and in substance.

I found the writing a little shallow with no real 'bite' to the characters to sufficiently hold my attention. The plot was, to my mind, an interesting idea that didn't quite work.

I'll certainly give it a second reading and will try some of the author's other offerings ... Perhaps he can yet change my mind.
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VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 4 December 2008
Undoubtedly the most important writer of urban fiction since Elmore Leonard, it's difficult to understand why Pelecanos isn't better known outide the US, despite unanimous and prolonged critical praise. He seems better known now for his scriptwriting on 'The Wire' than his own books.

In this book, as others, he takes a historical sweep from the 1970s until today, and is acutely insightful into both the big social issues that cause his characters to behave as they do and the minutiae of their everyday lives - the shoes they wear, the music they listen to, the brands of stereo equipment and furniture they have in their apartments, building up an astonishingly detailed picture of both the early 70s and today. To manage to do this and also make the novels as deeply moving and exciting as they are puts him up, for me, as one of the great social realist writers of all time, up there with George Orwell or Zola. Buy this and all of his books.
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on 25 December 2008
I'd never heard of George Pelacanos until I read a review in a newspaper which rated it one of the thrillers of the year. And I have to say that critic was absolutely right. Pelacanos seems to have a cult following but is still very low profile. In fact I found an old pile of his books buried in the corner of Waterstones! Can't understand why. The Turnaround is a very simple but very evocative tale of a childhood incident and the repercussions years later. Sounds cliched but in fact it's totally original and the story wraps itself around you like a cold, dark night in Washington DC.
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on 8 April 2015
Just dreary as hell. I bought this as an alternative to James Ellroy who is first rate, and this book was a massive let down. I binned it after about 20 pages. Trashy dialogue, and about as interesting as stale toast. Avoid.
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on 6 December 2009
Pelecanos was a fine novelist before he began contributing scripts to The Wire but his experience on the television series appears to have further honed his skills. There is no fat in his work and, while there is no shortage of bleakness and despair, there is also a humanity there which many other crime writers either neglect or simply don't possess in the first place.
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on 21 August 2009
While I read this quickly and with enjoyment..there was an element of deja-vu. Denis Lehane's Mystic River seemed to have left more than a tide mark on the narrative structure used here..but otherwise it was a characteristically effective Pelecanos novel. Well plotted with the usual devices of popular music used as an aspect to create both context and character.
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on 22 April 2017
As described
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on 11 August 2015
Good
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Great book
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