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Hell to Pay Mass Market Paperback – Mar 1 2003

4.1 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (March 1 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446611328
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446611329
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 3.2 x 17.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,853,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

In Hell to Pay, Washington, D.C., is just one more thug in an endless list of thugs who brutalize the poor, the weak, and the young. The primary victim this time is a rising star on Derek Strange's Pee Wee football team. In this city where making T-shirts for bereaved families of young murder victims is a full-time business, the boy is an accidental victim in a war between drug dealers and lowlifes.

Private investigator Strange, in his second George Pelecanos outing (after 2001's Right as Rain), has seen enough of this face of D.C. His relationship to his secretary/lover Janine sputters in the wake of increasing, irrational infidelities. His moral compass swings wildly as he tracks the killers, Garfield "Death" Potter and friends. Not knowing if he can be satisfied seeing these men in prison, Strange contemplates other brands of "justice."

For fans of Pelecanos, all the usual trappings are here: the hyper-real dialogue, the bloody street fights, the immersion in classic R&B, and the most current music on the streets. Pelecanos does stumble in a few places. His narrative becomes wooden at times, and his plot features a couple of glaring coincidences (e.g., Strange just happens to jot down the license plate of a car that later turns out to be the one driven by the murderers). But Pelecanos is the real deal in noir. If Dennis Lehane owns Boston and Michael Connelly is master of L.A., Pelecanos is dark D.C.'s intimate chronicler. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

You know you're in Pelecanos country when the music begins early a trio of street thugs on their way to a dogfight listen to "the new DMX joint on PGC, turned up loud" and continues to throb all the way through this second book in the author's hardboiled and heartbreaking series centered around Washington, D.C., private detective Derek Strange. A black man in his 50s, Strange first notices these particular thugs when they hang out around a Pee Wee football team he is coaching. Their appearance comes to seem more sinister in retrospect, when Strange's nine-year-old star quarterback is shot and killed at an ice cream stand. While Strange hunts for the men who shot the boy, his partner, Terry Quinn, an Irish Catholic ex-cop, gets pulled into an attempt to save a young runaway turned prostitute from a big-time pimp and falls for one of the tough women organizing the rescue. Meanwhile, Strange goes through a rocky period with his longtime lover (and secretary) Janine, forced to consider what his massage-parlor habit is doing to their relationship. The novel's turf the nontourist parts of Washington, D.C., neighborhoods where so many young black children die that selling T-shirts with their pictures on them at their wakes and funerals has become a cottage industry was staked out successfully in Pelecanos's earlier books about the sons and grandsons of Greek immigrants and now is extended to focus chiefly on the District's black majority. It is Pelecanos's intimate understanding of this volatile D.C. and the complexity of Strange a rich, sometimes frustrating but always warmly human character that should keep this series fresh for a long time to come. (Feb. 19)Forecast: Little, Brown is betting $100,000 in marketing dollars (not to mention a 20-city author tour) that this will be the book that propels cult favorite Pelecanos onto the bestseller lists and they may be right. Few writers deserve a boost as much as the hardworking, fearlessly gritty and engagingly idiosyncratic Pelecanos.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
P.I. Derek strange is back with Janine and her son Lionel as well as Terry Quinn from "Right As Rain" who is helping him coach Pee Wee football and doing some investigating on the side. It opens with bad guy Garfield "Death" Potter at a pit bull fight (he's so bad he later shoots the losing dog) browbeating a guy to tell him where to find Lorenze Wilder who owes him $100. Strange appears when he meets Susan Tracy and Karen Bagley, two ex-cops now running a detective agency that finds runaways and helps hookers.
Tracy and Bagley hire Quinn to track down a 14-year-old runaway who is controlled by pimp Worldwide Wilson. Terry screws up the snatch, Susan bails him out and they become a hot item in the aftermath.
On a parallel story line, Potter and co. kill Lorenze and his nephew Joe on their way home from Pee Wee football practice. Lorenze's sister has been raising Joe on her own, never telling him who his father is. He's a force that will figure into the rest of the story.
Though 2/3 of D.C. homicides go unsolved, ther are enough clues and enough interest to get Joe Wilder's killers. Strange gets to Potter before the cops do. At the same time Terry is going after Worldwide who beat up Stella the working girl who tipped them to the runaway.
The two parallel showdowns are a stretch, but Pelecanos has a great way of letting justice be done. In the end the reader knows what happened to whom and is still left to speculate how Pelecanos expects the criminal justic system to clean things up.
Enough loose ends for a sequel? I hope so! Pelecanos never disappoints.
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Format: Hardcover
I picked up Hell to Pay with no expectations. I saw it in my local Border's and noticed he was a local (Washington, DC) crime novelist, which fascinated me. After I bought the book, but before I began reading it, I read an article about Pelecanos and Hell to Pay in a major weekly magazine (it might have been Entertainment Weekly) which built up Pelecanos as one of the freshest new voices in crime fiction today. So by the time I started reading Hell to Pay, my expectations may have been a bit high.
Regardless, I came away disappointed. The plot was fairly thin. Everything that took place could have fit into three or four chapters. There were no real twists or turns that made me feel compelled to keep turning the pages. Additionally, there were several scenes of . . . intimacy . . . that just felt like they didn't belong in the story at all. They seemed a little gratuitous (but certainly not overly indulgent). The characters all seemed relatively contrived.
The redeeming features of this book are the snapshots of life in Washington, DC it provides. Pelecanos' Washington is not the Washington that you will see on The West Wing or any feature film. This is a story of the real people that live and work in Washington everyday. Also, the dialogue seemed very real to me, which is an important element of any piece of fiction.
In the end, this was not an unpleasant read, but there are many more books I would recommend above Hell to Pay.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
George Pelecanos is deservedly earning a loyal following of folks who like his urban Washington-based stories of crime, drugs, and residents who are sick of it yet can't escape. Pelecanos obviously has a love-hate relationship with his hometown. Yet after reading his books I fear most folks wouldn't want to get near it.
'Hell to Pay' is standard Pelecanos material. His characterizations are uniformly excellent, the prose is intelligent yet accessible, and he really captures the 'feel' of the urban ghettos in and around Washington. In this book we have a couple of private investigators, both former cops, involved with coping with brutal crimes close to their hearts. Both wrestle with the temptation of revenge. The reader has to wait until the last pages to know if these guys turn into vigilantes or manage to keep their own heads above the law.
Yet 'Hell to Pay' is not a perfect read. While very enjoyable I found the plot to be surprisingly ... unengaging, or at least much of it fairly predictable. Maybe I am just too much of a fan of George Pelecanos and I expect too much, or his style has become simply too familiar? Regardless, 'Hell to Pay' is still a very good book.
Bottom line: not a classic, but a fine example of contemporary American crime fiction.
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Format: Hardcover
Working for the Aiding Prostitutes in Peril non-profit organization, Montgomery County sleuths Karen Bagley and Sue Tracey specialize in locating teenage runaways. They hire DC private detective Derek Strange to help them with cases in the District. After proving his worth to his retainers, Derek and his partner Terry Quinn are sent to bring in fourteen-year-old Germantown runaway Jennifer from the cold mean streets of the city.
While Terry works the child prostitution case, Derek has a more personal vendetta to handle. Someone(s) killed the quarterback of the Pee Wee football team that Derek coaches while the kid was at an ice cream stand. At the same time Derek anguishes over the lad's murder, his longtime lover is all over him for his frequent visits to the massage parlor.

No one describes the neighborhoods of Washington DC better than George Pelecanos who take his audience on quite a vivid tour of the other side of Washington. The two subplots are well written and exciting, but the action is the streets of the city, homicide hot even on a wintry night. The characters are believable and make the story line sing while augmenting Mr. Pelecanos tour guide of the nation's capital. Fans of gritty urban investigative tales will want to read HELL TO PAY and its predecessor RIGHT AS RAIN because these are some of the best the sub-genre offer.

Harriet Klausner
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