Shame the Devil Mass Market Paperback – Mar 6 2001
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Penzler Pick, February 2000: Just as Robert B. Parker and Dennis Lehane have made Boston their own and Los Angeles has been the distinct province of a lineage leading from Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald to Michael Connelly and Robert Crais, so is George Pelecanos the storyteller who's put Washington, D.C., on the noir map. Once considered "the best-kept secret in crime fiction" by his peers, he is now fast leaving behind those days of strictly word-of-mouth fame and cult status.
Telling it like he sees it, and looking fearlessly into those dark, forgotten alleyways that lay too far beyond the corridors of power to make it into any guidebooks, Pelecanos conjures up a gritty, ghostly Washington of working-class neighborhoods and aging suburbs and shoots it through with chillingly unpredictable menace. Most Washington natives probably wouldn't recognize the place--but they couldn't stop trying either, knowing that they've at least glimpsed (out of the corners of their eyes) those environs where a Pelecanos character is most at home.
In Shame the Devil, we find a society of grieving men and women connected by loss, betrayal, the need for revenge, and the shadowy presence of evil. As in other Pelecanos tales, the heroes are not easily identified, love is a coming together of wounded souls, and answers are found where least expected. In the aftermath of a botched armed robbery, a fair number of lives have been thrown into a downward spiral. The problems, however, come on faster and with more fury once the status quo sustaining the survivors has been breached by an ill-wishing and unwanted addition to their little group.
Here are two favorite moments. In one, protagonist Dimitri Karras asks the name of a fellow bar patron. Hearing that he's called Happy, Karras comments that he doesn't look too happy. The answer: "He's pacing himself." The other: we hear the thoughts of the sociopathic villain: "Some believed that incarceration was a mark of failure, but Frank disagreed. Prison was an essential element of any career criminal's education."
With Shame the Devil, Pelecanos solidifies his position among the elite of the brilliant coterie of young noir writers who are creating the emerging classics of the genre. --Otto Penzler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
When the shooting stops on a blistering summer day at May's Pizza Parlor in Washington, D.C., in 1995, five people lie dead, a policeman is left crippled and robber Frank Farrow speeds off with his loot and not a trace of regret. But Farrow, the main villain in Pelecanos's fine new addition to his hard-boiled lineup, still isn't satisfied. He wants to return to finish off the injured cop, who killed Farrow's brother during the shoot-out. Farrow doesn't anticipate, however, the burning desire for revenge harbored by the family and friends of those butchered in the notorious pizza bloodbath. Chief among them is 50-ish Dimitri Karras, whose five-year-old son died when he was mowed down by the getaway vehicle Farrow was driving. Now, three years later, Karras is just getting his life back together, much like the other survivors, all of whom meet regularly to share their grief and soothe their torment. By chance, Karras teams up with Nick Stephanos, a freelance investigator who finds out Farrow is back in town to exact his twisted vengeance. Stephanos tries to dissuade Karras from tracking down Farrow, but even he understands the urge for retaliation. Karras and Stephanos, who have starred in several of Pelecanos's earlier books (King Suckerman; The Sweet Forever), deepen considerably as characters in this hard-driving story of heartache, Stephanos's adjustment to the new-found maturity of middle age and Dmitri's search for some small relief in revenge. Set against a backdrop of greasy-spoon diners, church basements, dive bars and sparsely furnished apartments, the narrative is unsettlingly harsh yet captivatingly tender, the gritty back-and-forth of everyday urban life vividly etched. 11-city author tour. (Jan.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Several things I liked about this book include:
The group meetings of the survivors of the victims who were killed in May's.
The family atmosphere of The Spot including Phil, James, Maria, Mai, Anna, Darnell, Ramon, Dan Boyle and Happy. I could feel the past books coming off the pages when I first entered the Spot in this book.
Nick offering Dimitri a job so he can feel some sort of routine and structure in his life after the death of his child. VERY WELL DONE.
Both Nick and Dimitri's struggle with faith and a higher being.
Loved hearing how well Marcus and Elaine Clay are doing.
The tie-in to the masterpiece, THE BIG BLOWDOWN, which I always considered to be Pelecanos' best work. This one competes so well I'm not sure which one I would choose to be the best.
I know George P. thinks his Derek Strange books are his best but the three Stefanos books and the D.C. quartet are equally as good. I like the Strange series but the Stefanos character both old and young tip the scales for me.
In the end Nick leaves the Spot(as do two other characters) to try to control his drinking. Change is inevitable. It will be interesting to see where that goes should George P. continue this series. (I certainly hope so).
It is definitely beneficial to read these books in order because you really do get the big pay off when you read SHAME THE DEVIL last.
Highly recommended. A MUST READ.
P.S.Read more ›
'Shame the Devil' is very well-written, complete with excellent characterizations. While it doesn't have much of the drug culture found in the author's other novels it does contain more than its fair share of violence, extreme sadistic violence. The book drips with evil. Simply put, the story is about revenge and redemption. Certainly not in the same league as 'Crime & Punishment' but nonetheless a fine story. My only criticism is that at times, especially towards the end, the author gets a bit soppy. The good guy characters start hugging and snivelling. Why the author chose to insert "Kodak moments" into this hard-hitting novel is anyone's guess.
Bottom line: George Pelecanos is really a terrific crime writer. Enjoy.
In addition to the virtues of the book which are mentioned above, there's a pretty good story going on here as well. Maybe not as good as in some other Pelecanos books, but good enough to keep me wondering what was coming. My only reservation about the book was that there were so many characters that I could have used a character list to help me keep track of who's who. That's a feature I've seen occasionally and would like to see more often.
Overall, I'd rate this an outstanding work by an outstanding writer. I can't wait to get into another one of his books.
Most recent customer reviews
How does Pelecanos do it? He just keeps churning out 1 great book after another. Shame the Devil is no exception, GP's discriptions of DC, and his ultra realistic dialog sets him... Read morePublished on Feb. 23 2003 by Mark Davis
Pelecanos is simply the best thing out there. The most honest writer I've ever read. And growing up in DC, he knows it so well. Read and learn.Published on Aug. 13 2002
In my humble openion Pelcanos has done better in some of his other books. The first thirty three pages of this one was great, then about the next hundred pages were so slow and... Read morePublished on April 2 2002 by Mac Blair
This is my 1st Pelecanos novel, and frankly I cannot understand why it is not a number 1 bestseller. Read morePublished on July 17 2001 by Mark Davis
I don't think anyone captures the darker side of town quite as well as George Pelecanos. It's a rough, tough world out there and it's brought to life for us in each of his books... Read morePublished on July 16 2001 by Untouchable
Revenge and redemption. Faith and lost faith. Even the inner workings of a diner.
Most important: Real people caught up in events that have their own momentum. Read more
Shame The Devil is the first book I've read by George Pelicanos -- but it certainly won't be the last. As a matter of fact, I've already bought his latest mystery, Right As Rain. Read morePublished on April 27 2001 by Bobbewig
This is the first novel that I've read by George Pelecanos and I absolutely loved it. The action, the storyline...that stuff was bad! Read morePublished on April 18 2001 by T. Higgins