RARA-AVIS: down by the river/cuba/Rankin

From: Carrie Pruett ( pruettc@hotmail.com)
Date: 09 Jan 2002

consolidating a few things -

I recently finished Pelecanos' "Down by the River where the Dead men go" and
*wow*. Nick Stefanos was already my favorite crime fiction "hero" based on the first two books but this one brought the stories to a new level. Great story, great pacing (which felt a little off in "nick's trip" where there was a bit too much going on for me to keep it streaight), great depiction of DC, and terrific secondary characters as always, with a cameo by Johnny McGinnes for good measure. I'm now going to have to go back and read the quartet books (particularly "Shame the Devil") with this background and I'm sure I'll find all kinds of new levels in them. Only one complaint I'll save for spoiler space at the end of the post -

I'm interested in the discussion of Latino crime fiction; I haven't read any yet but am storing up the titles for when I've got time. It's interesting because I can think of lots of American crime novels where Latinos, esp. Mexicans, figure prominently, the sleuth goes to Mexico, etc, so I think it would be an interesting perspective. One book that the discussion of Cuba did make me think of is Martin Cruz Smith's Havana Bay - though it's by an American writing about a Russian protagonist, I thought this was a really fascinating look at millenium-era Cuba; can't personally vouch for the accuracy but Smith certainly seems to do his research and can flat out write. Plus I've loved Arkady since Gorky Park days; his female Cuban partner is extremely well-drawn as well.

I commented a while ago that I'm not overwhelmed with Ian Rankin's writing though I like his books. I guess what I mean is that I don't ever recall stopping to savor a specific phrase or bit of dialogue in his books the way I do with my favorite writers. Definitely good books - "The Hanging Garden" I thought was especially strong - but in the ones I've read, which I'm sure is less than half the series, there just haven't been those passages that absolutely blow me away. I highly recommend the series though.

Now, a SPOILER coming up for Pelecanos books in general . . .













Part of me is waiting for these characters to run into a problem that cannot in any way be solved or addressed by a gunfight in an empty warehouse
(apartment building, abandoned shack, etc). I'm sure there are a lot of readers who look forward to these gunfight at the OK corral moments but after about the third book or so that I read I feel like, "OK, here it comes again," and I can't get so worked up over the moral implications of whatever action the characters are taking when it just feels like a mechanical part of the plot.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 09 Jan 2002 EST