Friday, August 30, 2013


ShoedogShoedog by George Pelecanos
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A drifter named Constantine winds up back in DC after more than a decade of drifting and finds himself entangled in a plot to rob two liquor stores at the same time. But can he keep his mind on the job when the girlfriend of the man bankrolling it has her sights set on him?

Shoedog is a departure from Pelecanos' first couple of books featuring Nick Stefanos. This one features a larger cast and a different writing style. Instead of a straight up detective story, this one is more like a heist by Richard Stark or Elmore Leonard. Probably more on the Leonard side of things. It's written from multiple viewpoints in the third person, much different than the Stefanos books.

Constantine, like Stefanos, is kind of a screw up but of a slightly different breed than our beloved Nick. He's a drifter, running his whole life. Things start coming unglued for him when he winds up back in DC for the first time since he was 17 and hooks up with another screw up named Polk. He and Polk get involved with a gangster named Grimes and things immediately spiral out of control.

Even though the writing is different than in the Stefanos books, it's still Pelecanos and still pretty damn slick, complete with music references. The heist seemed flawed from the beginning and was doomed to come unglued, as did the fledgling relationship between Constantine and Delia. Parker never would have worked with a crew like this.

I did like the way the dual heists were written, though. It felt like a sequence from a Guy Ritchie movie. An early one, like Snatch or Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, not anything after that.

That's about all I can say without giving anything away. It's a quick and exciting read. Not my favorite Pelecanos by any stretch but not bad either.

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