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Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go Paperback – Jan 1 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852427167
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852427160
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,488,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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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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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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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 23 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
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
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
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
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Nick Stephanos Goes Down By the River May 26 2013
By James L. Thane - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
First published in 1995, this is the third and final installment of George Pelecanos's series featuring Nick Stephanos. In the opening book,A Firing Offense, Nick left his job at Nutty Nathan's electronics store and got his license as a P.I. But as this book opens, Nick, who has a major drinking problem, is supporting himself by tending bar at The Spot, a somewhat less-than-genteel establishment. Being a P.I. is still something of a sideline for Nick.

At this point, Nick is dating a woman probably better than he deserves and who is also developing a significant problem with booze herself. Needless to say, Stephanos is not the best influence in this regard. One night, Nick goes on a hellacious bender and winds up dead drunk, down by the Anacostia River. During the course of the night, a car pulls up near the spot where Nick has passed out. He awakens sufficiently to hear two men drag a third out of a car and shoot him. Nick can't raise his head high enough to see either the killers or their car, but he is alert enough to deduce from the sound of their voices that one of the killers is white, the other black.

The next morning, Nick finally awakens and stumbles down to the riverbank where he finds the body of the victim, a young black man. He makes an anonymous call to the cops, reporting the killing, and then beats feet.

The cops are convinced that it's a drug deal gone wrong or perhaps a gang killing and they don't appear to be putting a lot of effort into solving the case. But Nick knows that it's highly unlikely that a black man and a white man would be cooperating in either scenario. The killing has sobered him, at least temporarily, and he decides to investigate the crime himself.

Stephanos finds it significant that the victim's best friend is now missing and he teams up with a straight-arrow newbie P.I. named Jack LaDuke who has been hired by the missing boy's mother to find him. Together, Nick and LaDuke will be drawn into a seamy world of drugs, gay porn, violent crime and lots of other unpleasant activities as they attempt to find the missing boy and solve the killing.

As is usual in a novel by George Pelecanos, the major force in the book is the setting and atmosphere that he creates. The seedy underside of Washington, D.C., where virtually all of his books are set, comes alive and is vividly rendered. You can feel the poverty and despair, smell the cigarette smoke, and practically taste the liquor.

As always in a Pelecanos book, music plays a key role, and hardly a page goes by that does not find Stephanos listening to one musical group or another, a great many of whom no one else has ever heard of, and at times it can seem like Pelecanos is simply showing off in this regard, effectively pointing out to the reader that he is cooler and way more hip than the reader could possibly ever be.

But this is a small complaint about a very good book from a writer early in his career who would only grow more talented and produce even better books in the years to come. It should appeal to any reader of crime fiction who likes his or her action down and dirty and who understands that in real life, sometimes there are no happy endings.

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