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The Sweet Forever [Mass Market Paperback]

George P. Pelecanos
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 10 1999
It's March madness. And the college boys are playing basketball on TV. But on the streets of D.C., the homeboys are dealing, dissing, dying. From behind plate glass, with an 80s backbeat pounding in his brain, Marcus Clay watches it all happen, and prays that he can make a go with his downtown record store. Then a car comes careening down U Street. And what Marcus sees next will plunge him into the middle of a war.

A drug runner is decapitated in the crash. A bystander--a white boy desperate to buy a woman's love--snatches a bag of cash from the wreck. And a prince of crime wants it back. . . . For Marcus's buddy, Dimitri Karras, the mayhem is a chance to make a score. For a pair of dirty cops it's a chance to get free. And for dozens of lives swept up into the maelstrom, it's just another springtime in America's capital, where the game is played for keeps . . .

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From Amazon

George P. Pelecanos's latest book is not only a tremendously detailed and emotionally powerful crime novel but also a virtual compendium and update of his other excellent novels that are all similarly rooted in the nonpolitical neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. Brought back for major roles are Marcus Clay, Dimitri Karras, and other important players from King Suckerman. There are poignant cameos by Randolph of Shoedog as well as the two Nick Stefanos--grandfather and grandson--from The Big Blowdown, A Firing Offense, Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go, and Nick's Trip. As always, Pelecanos uses jabs of pop music, basketball, clothes, and cars to quickly root us in time and place.

It's 1986, 10 years after the Bicentennial events of King Suckerman, so a woman in her 30s wears a Susanna Hoffs-style haircut "from the cover of the 'All Over the Place' album, not the redone look off the new LP." Dimitri, after a brief career as a teacher, is now working full-time for his friend Marcus's expanded chain of four Real Right record stores; he drives a BMW 325 and wears his graying hair moussed and spiked. (He also snorts more cocaine than Al Pacino did in Scarface, one of several films used as icons here.) The doomed basketball star Len Bias--just finishing his college career and about to sign a huge deal with the Boston Celtics--is on TV screens everywhere, admired equally by the former local hoops hero Clay and a conflicted cop named Kevin Murphy who has misplaced his moral compass. The complicated, satisfying plot involves $25,000 stolen from a drug dealer; several children in peril; smart adults who screw up their lives in dumb ways; and the speed with which violence festers and explodes in unexpected directions. --Dick Adler --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Pelecanos (King Suckerman) lays a fair claim to be the Zola of Washington, D.C. The latest of his thrillers, which use a recurring cast of ordinary Washingtonians to chronicle the city's decline since WWII, brings us to 1986, when Vietnam vet Marcus Clay, founder of ("African American Owned and Operated") Real Right Records, and his employee and best friend, aging Greek-American cokehead Dmitri Karras, witness a grisly car accident outside Clay's newest record shop on the struggling U Street strip. A suburbanite, in town to score blow from Karras, steals $25,000 in drug money from the car and inadvertently starts a race between local hoods and dirty cops?to get the money back and avenge the theft?that jeopardizes the neighborhood's fragile peace. As always, the intertwined fates of black and white Washington inform the fates of Pelecanos's individual characters, and if he cooks up saccharine subplots for his protagonists, the city's large and small tragedies?its crack epidemic, the overdose of local hero Len Bias, the disgrace of home rule, the withering of D.C.'s last independent music scenes, the ugly segregation of the place?cut the sweetness and haunt the compelling main plot from beginning to end. With characters for whom the White House is just a tourist attraction, Pelecanos is that rare bird among Washington novelists, a writer who loves and knows the city he writes about.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars First Time Pelecanos reader April 24 2004
By Sean
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is my first time reading a pelecanos book, not even sure why I chose to read it. I have to admit, that I read the first 100 pages, sporadically over a week. I really was not being pulled in by the plot, but I wanted to keep reading because of the characters. They are realistic, in language, habits and all have depth.
The characters do stay with you long after the book. The ending may have been a little too clean, but it was still realistic. The details about the music and the streets seemd to take away from the story. It was just too much detail. It was DC in 1988, so the backdrop of a Presedential election seems to be completely ignored, considering how much detail he put into other areas.
The Len Bias backdrop was a great backstory.
i definitely want to read mroe from Pelecanos.
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By lazza
Format:Mass Market Paperback
'The Sweet Forever' is one of several novels from Pelecanos based in urban Washington, this time in the mid-1980s. The city is an absolute mess; violence, drugs and corruption reign supreme. In this backdrop Pelecanos weaves a story of inter-racial strife, heartbreak, disillusionment, and despair. Yes, this books packs it all in without appearing to be forced, preachy, or sentimental. While most books from Pelecanos sort of delve into these areas in one way or another 'The Sweet Forever' really succeeds in every way. [As you can tell, I really liked it. :-)]
But the book isn't perfect. Without trying to explain its somewhat complex and interwoven story let me just say the ending seems to fit together just a bit too nicely. I would have liked a least one loose end, which would a been a better reflection of reality. The ending wasn't disappointing, but rather it could have been just a bit more powerful.
Bottom line: my favorite so far from Pelecanos after reading nearly of his books. Strongly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well Done and Engrossing Jan. 14 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Sweet Forever is a well done and engrossing crime novel. Pelecanos' story shifts from the Washington DC gang members to the corrupt cops to honest people just trying to get by and back again. It's not really about one crime, like a murder that must be solved. Rather it concerns a chain reaction of events which occur after a bag of drug money is taken from a flaming car. The characters are real and will stay with you after you put the novel down. The resolution is satisfying--nothing canned or predictible here. The Sweet Forever is an enjoyable, engrossing read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It's only rock 'n roll . . . . Nov. 24 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Pelecanos is one of those elusive writers who avoids (either by design or subject matter) the spotlight. Like James Crumley, his body of work is substantial and applauded by those who continually seek him out. He seemingly has yet to break into the Top 40, to coin a music phrase he would probably agree with, but it seems inevitable.
Marcus Clay, up from mean streets, is a successful record store owner. Actually four record stores. So successful, Pelecanos points out, his wife Elaine has left him.
Right there is an extraordinary subtlety. Pelecanos paints his black characters with the same confusing mish-mosh of emotional color as he does his white characters, saying, 'we are all the same, all confused, all looking for love, losing it, trying to recapture it.'
Marcus resists the encroachment of drug dealers in the location of his stores and that resistance turns not surprisingly to bloodshed.
Karras, his colorblind Greek friend, suffers the moral dilemma of his own drug habit and recognition of the consequences of his acts.
Very compelling; very noir. Highly recommensded.
The only caveat I might suggest is that you may want to read some of the earlier works to get a better grip on the personality of the characters. Kudos.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a flat out terrific book. Pelecanos weaves an intriguing story about a search for some stolen drug money, a battle for control of a neighborhood and a number of characters looking for a different direction for their lives. The scene descriptions are vivid and the character development is superb. Exactly what else would you be looking for in a crime novel?
As a confirmed Pelecanos fan now after reading several of his books, I'd recommend a couple of things to anyone considering reading his work. First, if you like tough, gritty crime novels, definitely read his work. It is excellent. Second, I think you're better off by reading the old stuff before the newer work. The reason for this is that a number of the characters appear in multiple books and if you know a character will show up in a later work as an older person, you know they didn't get killed in the earlier work.
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2.0 out of 5 stars I Must Be Shallow Or Something Oct. 12 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I must be shallow or something, because I just don't see what the big deal is about Sweet Forever. Before I go on, however, let me qualify my statements by telling you that Sweet Forever is the only G.P. novel I've picked up so far, and so maybe my opinion is based upon a small-scale conclusion.
That out of the way, let me just say, Pelacanos seems to be 80% setting, 10% Characters, 10% story.
After finishing Sweet Forever, I didn't want to hear another reference to an 80's band for the next several weeks. Pelacanos seems compelled to remind the reader that it is 1986, roughly fifteen times per page. He mentions cars every now and again. He mentions political figures sometimes. But mainly, he establishes setting through music, and Basketball.
And it's silly, if you ask me.
Every one of his characters, at some point in the story - which only takes place over a couple of days - goes to some sort of music show. Music seems to be the most important thing each of the characters lives. And the College Basetball thing? Come on. It was popular, I don't deny that, but he makes it seem as though it - and Len Bias - were bigger than life. Maybe he should have made the setting 1987, and used the Redskins as a Prop. Anyway, after all was said and done, I wanted to yell at the author, "Enough! I KNOW it's 1986; I get the point, already."
The characters were OK, but I couldn't identify with any of them.
The story was TV cop show quality at best.
All in all. The novel was readable. If you're Pelacanos, and you happen to read this review: Sorry. I get the feeling yo can do much better.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Pelecanos is a Master
Just finshed Sweet Forever and it blew me away. This is not only the best crime fiction book I have ever read, but it is one of the best books period. Read more
Published on July 19 2001 by Mark Davis
4.0 out of 5 stars The Streets of Washington DC in the 80s
Set in Washington DC in the mid-1980s, the drug of choice has now changed from marijuana to cocaine. Read more
Published on July 9 2001 by Untouchable
4.0 out of 5 stars Better late than never . . .
"The Sweet Forever" is the first George P. Pelecanos book that I've read, but it won't be the last. Read more
Published on April 24 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST BOOK EVER
Quite simply put this is the best novel I have read. I liked King Suckerman, but this book just blows it away. Read more
Published on Nov. 2 2000 by Tyler Durdan
4.0 out of 5 stars Dude Knows His Junkies
I think Pelecanos is much, much more interested in his characters than the average suspense writer, and he knows that adulthood changes in point-of-view and lifestyle are much more... Read more
Published on Oct. 16 2000 by M.H.
4.0 out of 5 stars At the top of his genre...
Set in Washington DC in the last 1980s, this is a very well done cops and robbers genre detective novel - but then it is much more. Read more
Published on Aug. 5 2000 by R. Peterson
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard-Boiled with a Heart
Pelecanos should be big, fat, and rich right about now, because everyone should be buying these books, major studios should be optioning these scripts, and A-list actors should... Read more
Published on July 7 2000 by Chad M. Supp
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