Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go by George Pelecanos
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When a drunken bender sees Nick Stefanos stumble upon a murder in progress, he begins investigating once he sobers up. Nick soon finds himself teaming up with Jack LaDuke, a straight-laced PI and looking for the murder victim's best friend, unraveling a web of drugs, pornography, and death...
Nick Stefanos' slide into irredeemable drunkeness continues in Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go, the third of his "adventures." While Nick is now one of my favorite series mystery characters, he's wearing me down with his drinking.
Down by the River deviates from the structure of the first two. There are no drunken road trips in this one. Nick actually acts more like a detective in this one than the previous two books put together, mostly because Jack LaDuke doesn't drink. Still, Nick being Nick, he does manage to hit the sauce quite a bit, getting blackout drunk a few times and trashes his relationship with Lyla.
Pelecanos' writing continues to mature in these early outings, displaying some Jim Thompson in addition to the usual Chandler and Crumley. His depictions of Nick getting drunk make me feel a little hungover. This one felt a lot more urgent than the other two Stefanos books, probably because there was no drunken road trip to break up the investigation.
Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go is the best written of Pelecanos' Nick Stefanos series and probably the most powerful since it shows what Nick's life is doing to the people around him. I guess I'll give it a five but I feel guilty doing it since Nick keeps plunging toward rock bottom.
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