Hell to Pay Mass Market Paperback – Mar 1 2003
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In Hell to Pay, Washington, D.C., is just one more thug in an endless list of thugs who brutalize the poor, the weak, and the young. The primary victim this time is a rising star on Derek Strange's Pee Wee football team. In this city where making T-shirts for bereaved families of young murder victims is a full-time business, the boy is an accidental victim in a war between drug dealers and lowlifes.
Private investigator Strange, in his second George Pelecanos outing (after 2001's Right as Rain), has seen enough of this face of D.C. His relationship to his secretary/lover Janine sputters in the wake of increasing, irrational infidelities. His moral compass swings wildly as he tracks the killers, Garfield "Death" Potter and friends. Not knowing if he can be satisfied seeing these men in prison, Strange contemplates other brands of "justice."
For fans of Pelecanos, all the usual trappings are here: the hyper-real dialogue, the bloody street fights, the immersion in classic R&B, and the most current music on the streets. Pelecanos does stumble in a few places. His narrative becomes wooden at times, and his plot features a couple of glaring coincidences (e.g., Strange just happens to jot down the license plate of a car that later turns out to be the one driven by the murderers). But Pelecanos is the real deal in noir. If Dennis Lehane owns Boston and Michael Connelly is master of L.A., Pelecanos is dark D.C.'s intimate chronicler. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
You know you're in Pelecanos country when the music begins early a trio of street thugs on their way to a dogfight listen to "the new DMX joint on PGC, turned up loud" and continues to throb all the way through this second book in the author's hardboiled and heartbreaking series centered around Washington, D.C., private detective Derek Strange. A black man in his 50s, Strange first notices these particular thugs when they hang out around a Pee Wee football team he is coaching. Their appearance comes to seem more sinister in retrospect, when Strange's nine-year-old star quarterback is shot and killed at an ice cream stand. While Strange hunts for the men who shot the boy, his partner, Terry Quinn, an Irish Catholic ex-cop, gets pulled into an attempt to save a young runaway turned prostitute from a big-time pimp and falls for one of the tough women organizing the rescue. Meanwhile, Strange goes through a rocky period with his longtime lover (and secretary) Janine, forced to consider what his massage-parlor habit is doing to their relationship. The novel's turf the nontourist parts of Washington, D.C., neighborhoods where so many young black children die that selling T-shirts with their pictures on them at their wakes and funerals has become a cottage industry was staked out successfully in Pelecanos's earlier books about the sons and grandsons of Greek immigrants and now is extended to focus chiefly on the District's black majority. It is Pelecanos's intimate understanding of this volatile D.C. and the complexity of Strange a rich, sometimes frustrating but always warmly human character that should keep this series fresh for a long time to come. (Feb. 19)Forecast: Little, Brown is betting $100,000 in marketing dollars (not to mention a 20-city author tour) that this will be the book that propels cult favorite Pelecanos onto the bestseller lists and they may be right. Few writers deserve a boost as much as the hardworking, fearlessly gritty and engagingly idiosyncratic Pelecanos.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Several separate plots are occurring simultaneously. Strange and Quinn are hired to recover a fourteen year old girl working as a prostitute for Worldwide Wilson, a hardened operative. One of the problems is that the girl does not want to go home. Another plot concerns three homicidal young men who want to knock off a man who owes them money. The man is an uncle to one of the boys playing on Strange's youth football team that he coaches. When the boy becomes involved, Strange and Quinn want vengeance.
HELL TO PAY is another sterling example of what makes George Pelecanos one of the best. He is a master of characters and dialogue. They reflect the highly realistic milieu of the nation's capital where this series takes place. He successfully balances these superb characterizations with a truly riveting plot. The book is also just the right size. Other practitioners of the crime fiction art would do very well to read and learn from this very, very fine writer. One of the best of the year.
I felt like slapping the author when I had to skip what became boring recitations of all the songs he knows. I pray it is all he knows. I would hate to think there is more in store for us. There is a LOT of difference in listening to music, finding it in a movie sound track and reading about it. Save it for the movie if it ever makes it. Read Vachss for how it is suppose to be done and spare us Please.
The story just didn't hold together well enough to avoid me starting the old skip this. Even with all the skipping I did I found I didn't lose much. That says a lot.
I looked at his new one and ran far far away to writers I know I enjoy.
'Hell to Pay' is standard Pelecanos material. His characterizations are uniformly excellent, the prose is intelligent yet accessible, and he really captures the 'feel' of the urban ghettos in and around Washington. In this book we have a couple of private investigators, both former cops, involved with coping with brutal crimes close to their hearts. Both wrestle with the temptation of revenge. The reader has to wait until the last pages to know if these guys turn into vigilantes or manage to keep their own heads above the law.
Yet 'Hell to Pay' is not a perfect read. While very enjoyable I found the plot to be surprisingly ... unengaging, or at least much of it fairly predictable. Maybe I am just too much of a fan of George Pelecanos and I expect too much, or his style has become simply too familiar? Regardless, 'Hell to Pay' is still a very good book.
Bottom line: not a classic, but a fine example of contemporary American crime fiction.
If the theme of that last book was racism, this one's is hopelessness. The two main stories revolve around teenagers who have lost any sense of hope and whose existence has spiraled into ugliness from which they are incapable of breaking free. One of these stories follows three boys as they peddle hydro (pot), boost cars, bet o dogfights, listen to tunes, eat fast food, and eventually commit murder. The trio are emblematic of many kids who grow up in the ghetto, with no fathers, no guidance, and ultimately no hope. All they have is their street rep and a resignation that they will die young. When they murder someone close to Strange, he races to identify and track them down before the police do. The other story revolves around a nasty pimp (as if there's any other kind) who specializes in teenage talent, and what happens when Quinn helps a prostitution support group try and extract one of the girls and take her home.
The antidote to this theme of hopelessness is Strange and Quinn's coaching a neighborhood Pee-Wee football team where they try to teach the boys the right way to live and to see that life holds possibilities for them. Of course, as in all Pelecanos' books, there's a running dark tone that lets the reader know there are few happy endings in this world.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I really enjoyed this second novel in the Derek Strange series. HELL TO PAY is an action novel from beginning to end with a great deal of substance in between. Read morePublished on June 8 2004 by Sal Paradise
I'm not a big fan of crime fiction, but I had read some good reviews on this story in some Men's magazine and figured I'd pick it up. Read morePublished on April 19 2004 by Scott
If you are feeling down and are looking for a book to pick you up, this is NOT the one. It is a grim and depressing story about the harsh realities of inner city life. Read morePublished on Oct. 30 2003 by John D. Costanzo
George Pelecanos drags the reader into the heart of Washington D.C. and changes a "statistic" into a real, living, breathing child with a future that is torn from him,... Read morePublished on July 29 2003 by jeanne-scott
This audio book, like many of those by "Brilliance Audio" is difficult to listen to...especially while driving. Read morePublished on Feb. 28 2003 by Kaizen99
It took me a while to get on the George Pelecanos bandwagon, but with "Hell to Pay" I am in the fan club. Read morePublished on Feb. 12 2003 by nobizinfla
In general, Hell to Pay was a very good book. It kept me reading and never really bored me all too much. Read morePublished on Aug. 23 2002 by Aaron Scott
George Pelecanos Hell to Pay is an enjoyable read full of quick wit and fast dialogue. Pelecanos focuses on Derek Strange, a private investigator in DC and his partner Terry... Read morePublished on Aug. 16 2002 by Elizabeth Hendry