Re: RARA-AVIS: Washington writers

From: Graham Powell (
Date: 03 Dec 2001

>They sense this guy knows what he is talking about--both the
>music and the scene. It is something that can't be faked.

This is probably what I like best about Pelecanos: his books brim with authenticity. I don't know if he's been through even one tenth as much as his characters, but he always gives the impression he knows what he's talking about. To use his own phrase, he knows what time it is.

The best book to see this in is DOWN BY THE RIVER WHERE THE DEAD MEN GO, where he leads a neophyte private eye (whose name I can't remember) around DC; the narrator, Nick Stefanos, handles all the situations they get into, where the other character can't relate to some of the people they deal with, and thus couldn't get the results that Stefanos can.

I thought Pelecanos' "be a man" theme was also brought out most explicitly in this book, especially when he has a conversation with a young man who is the father of the baby of the sister of the boy who Stefanos is looking for.
  I won't spoil it, but I think it gives a lot of insight into what Pelecanos thinks makes a man a man, and finds echoes in most of his other books (especially THE BIG BLOWDOWN).

------------ Hardboiled and Noir

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