Right As Rain Hardcover – Feb 6 2001
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George Pelecanos's Washington, D.C., is a far cry from the upwardly mobile, tourist-attraction-speckled enclave of Margaret Truman (Murder at the National Cathedral, Murder in Georgetown). Pelecanos's capital is a haunting terrain of drugs and death, a no man's land of posturing dealers and skeletal warehouses that shelter their buyers:
A rat scurried into a dim side room, and a withered black face receded into the darkness. The face belonged to a junkie named Tonio Morris. He was one of the many bottom-of-the-food-chain junkies, near death and too weak to cut out a space of their own on the second floor; later, when the packets were delivered to those with cash, they'd trade anything they had, anything they'd stolen that day, or any orifice on their bodies for some rock or powder.When PI Derek Strange is hired by Chris Wilson's mother to find out why her son, a black cop, was killed by a white cop, Terry Quinn, on a dark night in that no man's land, Strange figures that the answer is painfully clear: a typical case of mistaken identity, fueled by the assumptions and preconceptions of Quinn's innate racism. But what Strange finds is a tentative kinship with Quinn, who is desperate to proclaim himself "color-blind." Kicked off the force and convinced that there's more to his own story, Quinn asks to join Strange in his investigation. As the two pry into the past, drifting through the neighborhoods both men have known all their lives, they find themselves enmeshed in a tangle of cold-blooded competition and heated personal enmity.
Pelecanos generally has a light touch with the treacherous quagmire of -isms, veering only occasionally into sententious meanderings about the consequences of an economically and racially divided society. His wry humor, particularly in his descriptions of Earl and Ray, the heroin middlemen who bring the concept of white trash to a depressingly low level, leavens the novel's noir bleakness. And Strange himself is a compelling character: a middle-aged black man who has seen more of life's callousness than he cares to admit, and whose jitteriness about personal commitment speaks volumes about his own expectations for happiness. A strong character and a good read--Pelecanos fans can settle in and look forward to Strange's next appearance. --Kelly Flynn
From Publishers Weekly
Nearly a decade after Pelecanos (Shame the Devil; Nick's Trip) introduced Nick Stefanos to the private eye scene, the hard-boiled specialist has come up with a new urban gumshoe who's just as tantalizing to watch in action. Derek Strange, a black ex-cop in his mid-50s, walks the same Washington, D.C., streets as Stefanos, yet does so with far more experience under his belt. In his debut, Strange is hired to answer nagging questions about the death of black police officer Chris Wilson, who was killed by another cop in a shootout. Police investigators cleared Terry Quinn, the white cop who killed Wilson, but Strange soon discovers several hidden issues that may put a different spin on the case. Quinn confirms that he shot Wilson in self-defense, but admits he remains disturbed by the actions of the other people present at the scene of the conflict. Strange enlists his aid in the investigation and the case takes both men deep into the worlds of drug dealing, police corruption and racism. The plot rolls along in a workmanlike, almost predictable fashion. Yet as is usually the case with Pelecanos, it's the characters who give the story the gritty, dark twists that have become the author's trademark. The cast is wonderfully varied, yet Pelecanos also manages to capture the essence of most of his characters with just a few descriptive licks. It's Strange, however, who steals the show. He's a mature man with a highly defined sense of who he is--an aging private eye who knows that his best weapons these days are his wits and wisdom. (Feb. 6)Forecast: A new Pelecanos series hero is big news in the noir world. British, Italian, French and Japanese rights have already been sold, and a five-city author tour will start sales rolling in the U.S.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Derek Strange is one of the more realistic characters I've met in any genere. He's a flawed but basically decent man struggling with the social issues that confront him in his personal and professional life. Pelecanos conveys a social conscience without becoming preachy, and Strange is the perfect vehicle for this. His settings are not the tired, overused streets of NYC or Los Angeles, but instead the familiar but less literary-travelled areas surroudning Washington DC. His DC is not the political Beltway, but rather the complex urban area that offers the tremendous positivies and the horrific negatives of any major city. In addition to a remarkably sympathetic and detailed protagonist, Pelecanos creates some truly repulsive bad guys- thoroughly evil, but utterly impossible to turn away from.
Some reviews criticize Pelecanos for his overuse of musical references. I disagree- I think that the constant reference to the music being listened to by the character sets the mood and tone as much as do the descritions of place.Read more ›
Two small-ish qualms. In the first place, Pelecanos would probably do well to give up on sex scenes. When - as is the case here - they are weakly done and add nothing to our understanding of character or plot, they feel gratuitous and cynical. In the second place, I am certain the paragraph on pp8-9 describing Strange's professional equipment is not a case of literary product placement but it does read alarmingly like advertising copy.
George Pelecanos has a unique way of writing that's different than any author I've ever read.
"Right as Rain" is an intriguing crime story that grabbed my attention from the beginning and didn't let go.
Derek Strange and Terry Quinn are both ex-cops from different backgrounds who meet as a result of an investigation Strange is conducting. He's now a private investigator asked to look into the shooting death of a black police officer shot by Quinn. The story takes a lot of unexpected twists and turns once he reluctantly accepts help from Quinn and the two of them start getting closer and closer to the truth.
It's an excellent novel, and will not be my last by Pelecanos. I'm hooked! I've already ordered the next two in this great series.
Check it out for yourself, you won't be disappointed!
One honest word of caution to anyone who may be reading this review trying to make up her mind whether or not to buy or read Right as Rain -- it is a very "male" novel. It is macho. It is violent and gritty in its depiction of drugs and drug use, and women take subordinate roles to men. If you want great women characters go read Jane Austen, if you want a shotgun and Sharmba Mitchell, Pelecanos is your man.
Right as Rain is the story of private detective Derek Strange and former cop Terry Quinn's first meeting and first work together. Quinn has been forced into retirement for shooting and killing a plain-clothed black cop (Chris Wilson) in a morally compromised situation, and the story is primarily about his ability to redeem himself. The race issue is described in multi-textured layers where honesty proves the better line to walk than PC social convention.
Both Quinn and Strange have mature issues to work through. For Strange, he must decide how much to commit to a role as father and husband, while working the thankless streets of D.C. And at the center of their work is the lost junkie sister (Sondra Wilson) of the cop Quinn killed. She may hold the answers to why Wilson was going ballistic on a slimeball kid named Ricky Kane, which drew Quinn into pulling his gun in the first place.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
i have read 160 pages and still am not compelled to continue this book to the end. the plot is boring and predictable . it does not pull you forward, wondering what happens next. Read morePublished on June 3 2004
I read this novel after reading SOUL CIRCUS and this was one of the prequels to that novel which unfortunately is probably the last novel that the character Terry Quinn will appear... Read morePublished on May 15 2004 by Sal Paradise
Dull slow story, dull characters. I'd read Walter Mosley over this Pelecanos when it comes to stories involving black characters.Published on March 21 2004
Not much of a mystery - more like a sociological treatise masquarading as a mystery. Race is on center stage in this book, but only in a slipshod way. Read morePublished on Jan. 15 2004
'Right As Rain' is my first taste of the writing talents of George Pelecanos. I expected a moderately enjoyable yet forgettable crime novel. Read morePublished on Jan. 23 2003 by lazza
This was my first Pelecanos book, and I am fairly new to the modern crime genre. I've read Dennis Lehane and have enjoyed all his books. Read morePublished on Jan. 13 2003
Right as Rain captures the complex social, economic, and racial environment in our nation's capital. Read morePublished on Jan. 2 2003 by Edith Frias
Right as Rain is a good airplane book. It held my interest and passed the time. I found his attention to geographic detail both intreguing and annoying. Read morePublished on Oct. 30 2002