Tuesday March 10th, 2009

The Turnaround by George Pelecanos

turnaround1Recommended by Dustin in Portland, Maine.

If you’re suffering from withdrawal from “The Wire,” you’d be wise to read the novels of some of the show’s writers. After reading Dennis Lehane’s phenomenal The Given Day, I turned to Pelecanos, who wrote extensively for the show. Although not as gritty as “The Wire” (nor a mystery), The Turnaround has similar characterization – in fact, I couldn’t help but picture several of the characters from the show (Cutty, in particular) playing characters in this book. Set initially in the early 1970s, it’s about a trio of misguided white teenagers who drive into the black part of D.C. to harass the residents. One kid is killed, and another badly injured. The action then picks up in the present day, as the participants of that night – both the surviving victims and the assailants – are still struggling with the aftermath. It’s an extraordinary, gripping urban crime novel; a rich, realistic character study; and far more literary than you’d expect from a genre novel. More importantly, it also goes a long way toward killing those withdrawal pangs.