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King Suckerman [Mass Market Paperback]

George P. Pelecanos
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 6 1998
The time is 1976.  Captain Beefheart's on the eight-track.  The hot new superfly flick King Suckerman is coming to neighborhood theaters.  And Washington, D.C., is a hotbed of drugs and racial tension--an easy place to turn a wrong corner and land in a whole lot of trouble.  

That's what happens to Marcus Clay and Dimitri Karras when they cross paths with an ex-con and his gang of natural born killers.  Walking into a drug deal gone south, Clay and Karras end up with a pile of money that isn't theirs...the sexy teenage girlfriend of the Italian dealer...and major trouble.  The ex-con is soon spilling blood to get to the cash.  The dealer is scheming to get his girl back.  And two knockaround guys named Clay and Karras are reaching a pivotal moment--the time to take a stand, go straight, and get justice.  Or maybe just sweet revenge.

In this sizzling thriller, George Pelecanos writes with a firecracker in his prose, shooting sparks on every page and earning his place among the stars of crime fiction.

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D'origine grecque, Dimitri Karras est revendeur "d'herbe" dans un quartier pauvre de Washington. Accompagné de son ami, le Noir Marcus Clay, il passe se ravitailler chez un petit caïd italien, Eddie Marchetti. Celui-ci est en pleine transaction avec un quatuor de tueurs venus de Caroline pour acheter de la cocaïne. L'entretien tourne mal. Quelques coups sont échangés avec les sudistes et en représailles, Clay empoche le paquet de dollars qu'ils avaient versés à l'Italien. Les deux parties vont désormais s'affronter et tous les coups seront permis.

Sur cette trame de vengeance et de guerre mortelle (qui s'achève le 4 juillet, alors que la population fête joyeusement le bicentenaire de l'indépendance), Pelecanos reconstitue de façon efficace l'atmosphère d'un quartier de Washington avec moult détails sur la vie quotidienne des Noirs. Si les petits matchs de basket, la fumette et la soul music occupent une place importante dans leur existence, le cinéma est aussi très présent, plus particulièrement ce qu'on a appelé la "blaxploitation", cette série de films violents avec des "héros" noirs, qui débuta en 1971 avec Sweet Sweetback Baadass Song, écrit, réalisé et produit par Melvin Van Peebles. Premier volet d'une chronique sur la ville de Washington durant les années soixante-dix, King Suckerman est une reconstitution historique chaleureuse, écrite de façon béhavioriste, et qui permet de découvrir un milieu jusqu'alors bien négligé par le roman noir. On retrouve le héros du roman dans Un nommé Peter Karras, prix Cognac 2001 du roman noir étranger. --Claude Mesplède --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Cheech and Chong meet Pulp Fiction in a retro novel of Seventies drug culture. Small-time pot dealer Dimitri Karras and record-store owner Marcus Clay stumble into the wrong warehouse looking for weed and pocket some hot cash in the bargain. They are pursued by a gang of trigger-crazed lowlifes more concerned with savoring the taste of Kools and death than recovering their money. Dimitri slowly begins to realize that he's wasted many years dealing to kids and getting high. He proves his desire for redemption to Marcus by participating in a rooftop showdown with the Wilton Cooper gang. Few other characters here show potential for growth or transformation, but Pelecanos (The Big Blowdown, LJ 4/15/96) has an ear for the jivey talk of the era. This noir thriller may find a limited audience with baby boomers or fans of the author's well-received Nick Stefanos series.?Susan A. Zappia, Maricopa Cty. Lib. Dist., Phoenix
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Guns, Friends, and One Smokin' Soundtrack! Nov. 9 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
King Suckerman is one funny book! The prose is so high energy it shines, but a quick glance of the first page of customer reviews makes me nervous about writing a positive review of this book (most of you guys are dissing Pelecanos's effort, it looks like). I think King Suckerman was intended as an action-comedy, sort of a Sergio Leone-meets-Shaft novel where the message is that friendship and loyalty rises above. Pelecanos riffs freely on subjects from reefer, to DC basketball, to violence, to the real question at each of our hearts: was Jimi Hendrix a rock musician, or a soul musician?
All of this lightly covers some heavier issues underneath the surface of King Suckerman; chiefly race, drugs, and violence in our nation's capitol. Marcus Clay is a black DC record store owner (Real Right Records) and Demitri Karras is a young white man with no clear direction in his life. The two play ball together on DC's famed city courts, and when a simple drug deal draws Clay into pulling a gun on a local dealer, Karras and Clay become the subject of the dealer's (and some out of town boys') revenge.
The novel follows a pretty tight storyline from there with the redneck goons tracking down Karras and Clay, ultimately leading to the novel's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly style climax on a DC bicentenial July 4th with fireworks exploding in the background!
As with other Pelecanos novels (Right as Rain, Shame the Devil, Soul Circus, The Sweet Forever), King Suckerman is a deeply moral novel where redemption and loyalty rises above ignorance and hatred. There is an interesting passage in Suckerman where Karras finds out that a young kid he's sold some dope to has died in an automobile accident, and for a time he seems torn, trying to choose between right and wrong, friendship and honor.
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By lazza
'King Suckerman' is by some accounts among George Pelecanos's weaker efforts, and by other accounts his most enjoyable read. Like all his works this book takes place in Washington (, D.C.) and its characters are racially diverse, and into sex, drugs and rock & roll. And unlike many of his books the story starts off with a bang, most literally (ie, a rather graphically described killing). But then the book fails to take advantage of its early promise.
In 'King Suckerman' the author spends a lot of time, arguably too much time, on waltzing through 1970s memory lane. Blaxploitation flicks and the music of the times dominate the book. Yes, there are some nasty dudes in this book, lots of drug dealing, but before long we realize the author isn't going to deliver anything special. George Pelacanos has done much better ('Shame the Devil', 'Right as Rain').
Bottom line: the author seems to be into more of a nostalgia trip rather than writing a crime novel. But for those craving a taste of pre-disco 1970s ambiance this book is "really baaad".
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2.0 out of 5 stars Weak Jan. 9 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book did little for me. At times, it read like nothing more than a recount of 1970's brand names and music trivia. Since this was the first Pelecanos book I read, I missed out on any references to his other works. Accordingly, I found the characters very flat and cliched. I would not recommend this work to the casual reader.
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1.0 out of 5 stars NOT MY CUP OF TEA!!! Sept. 17 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I am sorry. Have read several books by Pelecanos ant this is the only one I have not liked. I quit reading after 108 pages. To much reference to songs and movies. Nearly every page talkes abou different songs and who likes what. Also, way to much sex for me. Sex with man and woman, sex with man and man. I like good crime books but not sex books. I am sure I am in the minority and the book will go great guns but it is not for me at all.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
I've read most of Pelecanos' work and, in my opinion, King Suckerman would rank as one of his weaker efforts. It's one of the earlier works and is worth reading for background on some characters who will show up in later books. It's also worth reading because it's a slam bam, gritty crime novel. It may not be one of the author's best books, but it's still one of the best crime novels I've read.
As usual, Washington, D.C. is both the setting for the story and a living character in the book. There are plenty of tough and weak, cunning and stupid players in the twisting story. If you have a pulse and like crime fiction, I don't see how you can skip this book or anything else Pelecanos writes.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The Tarantino Effect July 30 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Why do Americans think violence is so cool? I don't get it...
I love crime novels. Always have. I was weaned on Chandler and Hammett and James M. Cain and Jim Thompson. I've read all the contemprary guys: Pelecanos, Ellroy, Leonard, etc. As a writer, Pelecanos is as good as any of them, but like many today he relies way too often on the cheapest trick in the book: cartoonish, graphic violence to sustain narrative tension. King Suckerman is a classic example, only here, after many incidents of lurid, sadistic killing we get a moral at the end about personal responsibility. Give me a break. Anyway, like I said, the guy can write (though I could do without the pop culture references on every page). But it is was it is: cartoon crime fiction aimed at an adolescent male mentality, a long way from the adult crime fiction of Chandler and Cain and Thompson.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars D.C. Noir and Funk
Alright I am a Pelecanos junkie; I've read most of his novels and this one is still my favorite. While D.C. Read more
Published on June 3 2002 by D. A. Douglas
4.0 out of 5 stars Always A Price To Pay
A crime novel with a "moral to the story"; Dmitri Karras, a pot-smoking, dope-selling, basketball-playing, fun-loving guy with no goals or direction. Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2002 by Tim Smith
3.0 out of 5 stars i wish i could give it 3.5 stars
this is my first pelecanos novel and i am ordering more immediately after i post this review. the strengths of the book are really why you'd read it: slick dialogue, strong sense... Read more
Published on Dec 29 2001 by Flintlock
4.0 out of 5 stars Sex, Drugs and Rock �n� Roll
Probably a more appropriate title for the book would have been "Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll". All the action takes place amidst a heaping helping of all three "pleasures". Read more
Published on June 25 2001 by Untouchable
4.0 out of 5 stars Loathsome heroes, charming villains
I loved this book, great thriller, good action, killer dialogue. But, the couple of heroes at the heart of King Suckerman are loathsome, to say the least. All macho, all the time? Read more
Published on May 29 2001 by Carlos I. Camacho González
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible book!
This was my first book by this author, and I don't think I want to read another. I like the genre of "hard-boiled" detective novels, but Pelecanos obviously thinks... Read more
Published on May 14 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Superbad, Superfine, Super 70s all the time...
I don't have much time here, but I just had to chuck down a quick review of this fantastic book. I began this book at the start of an interstate car journey and by the time we had... Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2001 by Piers
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