Every time I pick up a George Pelecanos book, I have to convince myself to get it: his stories just don't seem to translate very well to compelling book-jacket blurbs. And every time, I am so glad I did.
What Pelecanos does so beautifully is to portray the often-boring everyday routines of police officers and petty criminals who may or may not have any direct interaction, interposing their stories as the characters cross paths at seemingly random points, until he pulls those threads in to a central resolution.Hard Revolution
is the fourth book in the "series" about private investigator Derek Strange (here without his partner, Terry Quinn), but in this case, it's a flashback to Strange's childhood, and into his young adult days, when he was a member of the Washington DC metro police force in the days of the riots that followed the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The story is more about the communities of DC, racism, white flight, and the social upheaval of the '50s and '60s than it is about crime and punishment. We meet Derek's family, hard-working father Darius and mother Alethea, angry and directionless older brother Dennis, and witness the birth of Derek's desire to join the police; later, we encounter with Derek the two-edged sword of being one of the few black officers on the metro force, with the racist attitudes of many of his fellow officers and the hostility of black neighbors who see his choice of career as a sell-out. Pelecanos also captures the culture of the time - the music, the styles, the confusing juxtaposition of white Americans' love for R&B music and simultaneous hatred of those who created it.
If you're looking for shoot-'em-up kind of crime novel, this isn't it, but if you like a thought-provoking story set in the milieu of cops and robbers, give it a try.