Hard Revolution George Pelecanos via Orion

Hard Revolution George Pelecanos via Orion

Pelecanos has been described as ‘the coolest writer in America’ and, given that even before he picked up a biro in anger his CV included
producing the Coen brothers and distributing John Woo’s ‘The Killer’, that’s a pretty hard statement to argue with.  (He’s also the writer of superb US TV series ‘The Wire’, coming to a satellite dish near you soon.
As a crime novelist, he’s way past cool, though it could be argued that with ‘Hard Revolution’ he’s left noir behind and written a truly important historical novel.
It’s very different from that other primo poet of America’s darkside, James Ellroy, however- where Ellroy writes in broad strokes, Pelecanos
is well aware that the devil’s in the detail.  His characters are
blue-collar guys; cops, salesmen, short-order cooks – and this is history from the bottom up; we see how change affects them and how it
resonates into their worlds.  The other important difference is Pelecanos’ humanity-whilst no one writes evil like mad-dog Ellroy, no-one writes dignity and decency like George P – his characters display true grace under pressure.
Set in Washington DC against the background of the Sixties civil rights movement and the murder of Martin Luther King, ‘Hard Revolution’ is the story of Derek Strange, a young cop trying to make sense of the changes happening around him.  The interweaving narratives take in murder, drugs, first love, larceny and the challenge of becoming a man.  The story culminates in the rioting that follows King’s assassination.  Whilst it’s entirely satisfying as a no-holds-barred crime story, it leaves the reader with thoughts that reverberate much, much deeper.
Pelecanos peppers the story with characters from his other books, but if you’ve never read him before don’t worry, this is a fine place to
start and the book stands alone just fine.  He’s also the most rock ’n’ roll of crime writers (with perhaps the honourable exception of the UK’s wonderful Mark Timlin) – ‘Hard Revolution’ is set to a soundtrack of late Sixties soul, but he also knows his way round Punk, New Wave, and Hardcore.
This is Pelecanos’ most important work to date, and could very well turn out to be one of the most significant crime novels ever written. 9.8/10
Martin Herron.

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Hard Revolution George Pelecanos via Orion