Hell to Pay by George Pelecanos
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Strange and Quinn take on two cases, one of a runaway turned prostitute and the background check of a longtime friend of Strange's daughter's new suitor. Complications ensue when a young boy on the football team Strange and Quinn are coaching is gunned down. Will Quinn be able to keep his temper in check long enough to get the girl back? Will Strange find dark secrets lurking in Calhoun Tucker's closet? What is the secret connection between the dead little boy, Strange, and the boy's unknown father?
Strange and Quinn are at it again. This time, most of the book is about the relationships between Strange and Quinn and the supporting cast. Strange and Janine's relationship is explored, Quinn meets another woman, and Strange and Quinn coach a peewee football team. Lurking in the background are Garfield Potter and his gang, a pimp named Worldwide Wilson, and druglord Granville Oliver.
The Derek Strange books, while detective fiction, are also Pelecanos' way of showing the rough way of life of poor black children in Washington DC, showing a different side of DC than we've seen with Nick Stefanos and the DC Quartet. Each of the antagonists grew up rough and while they are all pieces of garbage, they didn't have much choice in the matter.
I really like that Strange is committing to Janine and likely giving up his happy endings at the massage parlor. I also like that Quinn has a girlfriend now that will likely reign him in. Strange and Quinn are much more complex than they appeared at first glance.
Some of this book is hard to take, like the death of Joe Wilson. Hell, the fight between Worldwide and Quinn was one of the more brutal fist fights I've ever read. The connection between Strange and Granville was unexpected but made a lot of sense once it was revealed.
At this point, I'd read the phone book if Pelecanos had a hand in writing it. Four stars.
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