RARA-AVIS: Recently read - Washington D.C.

From: M Blumenthal ( blumenidiot@21stcentury.net)
Date: 06 Dec 2001

EMBRACE THE WOLF - This was the first in Benjamin Schutz's Leo Hagerty series. In contrast to George Pelecanos Mr Schutz's Hagerty is based in the suburbs. Here is the view from otside the city:

"Like a snake Washington sheds itself every four years. Everybody in government, which is the biggest game in town, is just passing through. They can run the country, but not the city they're staying in. To them D.C. is a giant roach motel, not a home."

Mix in the standard detective tracing a missing person, a serial killer, a southern town with crooked cops and even a little bit from Jaws. This is a pretty remarkable first novel. As Mark S wrote earlier, Hagerty doesn't lfeel he should let a sidekick do the messy things, he feels morally responsible to handle those situations himself.

SHAME THE DEVIL - Having read only King Suckerman, I'm almost reading Geore Pelecanos' novels in reverse order. The title comes from the proverb 'tell the truth and shame the devil'. Truth is the book's theme throughout. Once he learns it, Dmitri Karras must act. Thomas Wilson has had to live with the it and must finally act upon the knowledge, which has festered within him, to truly be a man. In a subplot Nick Stefanos must find out the truth behind a murder to save someoneone accused of the crime.

THE SWEET FOREVER - Again this is by George Pelecanos. It is the view of those who must live within the city permanently as opposed to Hagerty's from the distance of its suburbs. As in 'Devil' there are constant references to music. The two previous Pelecanos novels were set in the
'90's. As I stopped paying attention to popular music in the '80's the music references annoyed me. This book is set in 1986 so I caught a few. When I read George's books set in earlier times I should know virtually all of them.

Late in the book the quote, "when the legend becomes fact, print the legend" is mentioned but never attributed to its source. I had just given that quote to my son when were discussing the movie from which it came. Most novels would have done so. The novel is set at the time of the NCAA final four. Len Bias is mentioned throughout yet his fate is only hinted at. .I think George feels he is not responsible to explain anything. He puts in what he feels is relevant. It's up to the reader to investigate something he does not know.

I did not like Suckerman, but these two novels caused me to want to read the rest. I will have to treat them as I do the books of British fantasy novelist, Tom Holt or Canadian author, Mordecai Richler. I know I miss a few references that would cause me to enjoy their work even further, but I what I do understand is easily enough to cause me seek out and read their books. Mark

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