Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Big Blowdown

The Big BlowdownThe Big Blowdown by George Pelecanos
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Joe Recevo and Pete Karras were friends since they were kids, until their boss decided he didn't like Pete and had him badly beaten, giving him a crippling knee injury. Three years later, their lives will soon intersect when their old boss decides he wants Nick Stefanos, Karras' employer at a diner, to start paying him protection. Who will be left standing after the Big Blowdown?

Here we are. Another great book by George Pelecanos, the first in his DC Quartet. In the Big Blowdown, Pelecanos paints a picture of life in DC, with two vets, Karras and Recevo, as the main characters, taking them from their teens to their thirties. As with Pelecanos' other books, the Washington DC setting is a character unto itself.

The crime elements in this one aren't as pronounced as in the previous three Pelecanos book I've read, the Nick Stefanos trilogy, Nick being the grandson of the Nick in this book. The crime elements stick to the sidelines for most of the book, namely Florek looking for his missing sister and the hooker murders. Everything comes together at the end, just in time for the Big Blowdown.

Much like Nick Stefanos in his trilogy, Pete Karras is a conflicted character, not really sure how to act with his family. Or his mistress, for that matter. I think it's partly because of his experiences in World War II and partly from his upbringing. It sure goes a long way toward explaining why Dimitri Karras acts the way he does in King Suckerman, the next book in the DC Quartet.

Reading this right after reading the Stefanos trilogy, it's amazing to see what direction Pelecanos' writing was going, from a hardboiled style to a more literary one.

Four stars. I will continue to preach the Pelecanos Gospel.

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