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Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go [Paperback]

George P. Pelecanos
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Paperback
I've now read all of George Pelecanos' novels and I loved them all, including this one. If there's a better crime thriller author out there, I haven't found them. Gritty seems to be the operative word in describing his work and this story is no exception. His stories are all set in Washington D.C., with lots of great word pictures of places there and lots of music references. It's an outstanding formula and Pelecanos works it very, very well.
Having said all the preceding, I will say that I'd rate this as clearly one of his lesser works. If you haven't read the other books with Stefanos et al, I don't believe this book really gives you all the character development you'd like from a stand alone novel. This book is fairly short and maybe that's why I felt that the characters and the story were a little short changed relative to other books by the author.
To sum it up, definitely read Pelecanos and you'll almost surely want to read this book and all his work, but don't select this as the first of his books - go with The Big Blowdown, A Firing Offense or Nick's Trip.
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By lazza
Format:Paperback
'Down by the River...' is so much like other other Pelecanos novels: great feel of inner city Washington, a nostalgic look at wasted young men who turn into wasted not-so-young men (..sex, drugs, rock & roll), and a rather interesting crime story on top. However after reading several of his books I fear Pelecanos is falling somewhat into the John Grisham mold - that is, his stories often seem too similar. You read one, you've read them all. Fortunately for Pelecanos it really doesn't matter what the story is about; one loves getting lost in his wasted Washington environment. Folks from urban America, especially those aged between 30 and 50, will really relate to the characters in his books.
Bottom line: another successful installment from the Pelecanos "factory". Fans will rejoice.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I Love This Book! May 3 2004
Format:Paperback
How do I love thee Nick Stefanos, let me count the ways - Death. Despair. Drunkeness - These are a few of my favorite things the reader will find in pretty much every Pelecanos protagonist. If you stick to the Stefanos titles then you won't be disappointed however with recent titles, Pelecanos seems to be allowing himself to be sucked into the predictable cookie-cutter stories Grisham is better known for.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very entertaining book, but not one of Pelecanos' best Dec 31 2002
By brazos49 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I've now read all of George Pelecanos' novels and I loved them all, including this one. If there's a better crime thriller author out there, I haven't found them. Gritty seems to be the operative word in describing his work and this story is no exception. His stories are all set in Washington D.C., with lots of great word pictures of places there and lots of music references. It's an outstanding formula and Pelecanos works it very, very well.
Having said all the preceding, I will say that I'd rate this as clearly one of his lesser works. If you haven't read the other books with Stefanos et al, I don't believe this book really gives you all the character development you'd like from a stand alone novel. This book is fairly short and maybe that's why I felt that the characters and the story were a little short changed relative to other books by the author.
To sum it up, definitely read Pelecanos and you'll almost surely want to read this book and all his work, but don't select this as the first of his books - go with The Big Blowdown, A Firing Offense or Nick's Trip.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An unusually strong Chandlerian novel... Feb. 21 2001
By Dan Seitz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Nick Stefanos isn't the nicest guy in the world, but he tries to be a decent person, and when something goes wrong, he feels guilty. This is the third novel in the series, and we meet Nick as a bartender.
To give you an idea of the nature of Stefanos, this novel opens with him going on a pretty bad drunk, passing out by a river, and hearing the murder of a young black man. He feels guilt, just for being there.
This novel's strengths lie largely in the central character and the rendering of modern-day, low-rent Washington D.C. I grew up in the area, and I have to say, Pelecanos nails it on the head. Stefanos is also a very sad character which you feel for.
The plot is pretty well-done; you can't figure out what's going on on page ten, you actually have to read the book. Still, Vachss has been in this territory, and his Burke is a bit stronger and more world-weary than Stefanos. However, this is a pretty good detective novel that I enjoyed a great deal. Worth reading, a fun work.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic of the genre Nov. 14 2000
By Brian D. Rubendall - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Hardboiled P.I. fiction doesn't get much better than this. Pelacanos's hero, P.I. and bartender Nick Stefanos, is an alcoholic which is dramatically demonstrated by his harrowing bender as the book opens. In his stupor he sort of, kind of, witnesses a murder and becomes obsessed about solving it. Though not obssessed enough to quit drinking. Along the way, he hooks up with fellow P.I. Jack LaDuke, who has a mess of psychological problems of his own. The two form an unlikely pair, and as Pelecanos's riventing story unfolds, you know the ending will not be pretty.
This was my first book in this series, and I definately plan to read more. Fans of Andrew Vachss's Burke series, in particular, should eat this stuff up.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pelecanos at his best Oct. 9 2001
By Roger Johansson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is the last and most cynical novel in the Nick Stefanos trilogy. Nick has now travelled far down the dark road, and his struggle to get some peace of mind is more then ever tangled up in his love for a drink, some good music, and the warmth of a womans body. It's also in one of his more delerious nights that the story gets started. Nick happens to witness a murder when he's lying half unconscious in a pile of himself and his vomits; which is going to be the start of a dangerous ride that leads right into the drug and porn industry of Washington DC.
Down by the river where the dead men go is an excelent hard-boiled novel in all its ways. But what makes Pelecanos unique toward other writers, in this genre, is all his references to pop music, and film. This he uses in a very subtle way to describe his chracters and where in the subcultures of Washington DC's street life they belong. It is this total awareness of popular culture combined with his perfect feeling for street dialogue that makes Pelecanos not just a great crime writer, but a great writer in all terms of judgements. And it is in this third novel that he best manages to combine his feeling for pop music, and dialogue with a good and intriguing story.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story Aug. 5 2013
By HWK - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent story woven with the battle against lifes demons. Articulating the challenges and reflections we all experince as we live regardles of our origins. A interesting main character free yet restricted by work, choices and circumstances.
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