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Shame the Devil [Mass Market Paperback]

George P. Pelecanos
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 6 2001
The boys are back in town

Frank Farrow is a natural-born killer. Roman Otis is a fine-looking crooner who does his killing on the side. On a hot D.C. afternoon Frank and Roman hit a pizza shop called May's. When the hit was over, four people were executed. A cop was shot. A boy was dead. And when the sirens stopped wailing and the killers vanished into the heat, dozens of lives were shattered forever.

Now it's three years later, and Dimitri Karras, who lost a son, is starting to live again. But Dimitri's old acquaintance, a P.I. named Nick Stefanos, has just unburied the past--by discovering the killers' identity. Suddenly the second act of a crime story is about to be told. Because the May's pizza parlor killers are coming back into town: where they'll be greeted with open arms, broken hearts, and at least one loaded gun.

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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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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Nick and Dimitri sitting side by side . . . May 21 2004
Format:Hardcover
at the Spot. It's about time. SHAME THE DEVIL completes my reading of all of the Pelecanos books and I just have to say what a pleasure it was. SHAME THE DEVIL opens with a brutal robbery and killings at May's Pizza Parlor and the death of 5 year old Jimmy (Dimitri's son) during the getaway of the robbery.
Several things I liked about this book include:
**SPOILERS**
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a tight, well-developed crime novel.. April 7 2003
By lazza
Format:Mass Market Paperback
'Shame the Devil' is the last in a series of novels by George Pelecanos tracing the lives of Greek immigrants and their decendents living in downtown Washington. While there is no need to read all the previous three novels, which I haven't done, I suggest reading at least one (perhaps the first, 'The Big Blowdown') to gain a historical perpective to the characters, the setting, etc.
'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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pelecanos at his best Feb. 23 2003
Format:Hardcover
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 apart from the rest. If you like your crime fiction in an urban setting with no sugar coating, it does not get any better than Pelecanos.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The man Aug. 14 2002
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pelecanos is a genius at writing about bad guys July 2 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I would almost rate this a 5 star book based only on the descriptions and the dialogue of the bad guys in it. I don't know how an author could develop such an intriguing way of writing about bad guys and their interaction. Has Pelecanos spent time in prison or has he been an active criminal? I doubt it, but he had to have some way to sharpen his writing skills beyond just reading others' books and watching movies, etc.
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.
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3.0 out of 5 stars PELECANOS HAS DONE BETTER!... April 2 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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 boring in was hard to keep on reading. Frank Farrow and Roman Otis do their bad deeds in the first part of the book. The families and friends left behind bond together and meet once a week. Farrow and Otis decide to come back to town to do another robbery and to kill an ex-cops son. Will they get away with it? Someone is waiting for them with fury in his heart, he is determined to kill them both. But, can he? Take out the middle part of the book and it is a five. Hard not to have a middle part though.
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5.0 out of 5 stars PELECANOS-ELMORE LEONARD MOVE OVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Aug. 2 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I caught Mr. Pelecanos being interviewed on NPR the other day, and decided to purchase one of his paperbacks. Lucky for me, Shame The Devil was selected.....Do you know the feeling when you find a new author who has written numerous books, and you realize that his style of writing, descripions, etc., strike a chord within you, and you realize you now have numerous hours of enjoyment reading? It is a time of great joy! This is how Shame The Devil affected me. As a born and raised native Washingtonian, I can attest that his descriptions of bars, homes, etc. are exactly how they are in DC and surrounding parts, and as retired law enforcement officer, who now does investigations and process serving in all areas of DC, I can vouch for his first hand descriptions of the streets of the DC area. When Mr Pelecanos creates his characters, the reader is treated to all aspects of their persona, including weaknesses and strengths, their ability and inability to deal with tragedy, and a sense of what motivates each person. He delivers great insight on black/white prejudices, and how people survive in a sometime hostile, deadly enviroment. The murderers in this story are mean and nasty enough, and the victims will warrant sympathy. His use of music, naming songs and artists that the characters are listening to on the radio also add to the atmosphere. Mr. Pelecanos has lived a lifetime farther than his 44 years on this earth. He truly is a student/observer of human behavior. I believe his use of his characters' inner mental dialogue is very similiar to another of my favorite writers, Ken Follett. Do I suggest you buy this book? I suggest you buy all 10 of his books. I did. I gotta go now, it's time to read.
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