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Drama City [Kindle Edition]

George P. Pelecanos
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $9.99
Sold by: Hachette Book Group

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Book Description

Lorenzo Brown loves his work. In his job as an officer for the Humane Society, he cruises the city streets, looking for dogs that are being mistreated - underfed, unclean, trained to kill. He takes pride in making their lives better. And that pride helps Lorenzo resist the pull of easier money doing the kind of work that got him a recent prison bid. Rachel Lopez loves her work, too. By day she is a parole officer, helping people - Lorenzo Brown among them - along a path to responsibility and advancement. At night she heads for the city's hotel bars, where she can always find a man who will let her act out her damage. She loses herself in sex and drink and more. But Rachel's nights are taking a toll on her days. Lorenzo knows the signs. The trouble is, he truly needs her right now. There's an eruption coming in the streets he left behind, the kind of territorial war that takes down everyone even near it. Lorenzo needs every shred of support he can get to keep from being sucked back into that battleground. He reaches out to Rachel - but she may be too far gone to help either of them. Writing with the grace and force that have earned him praise as "the poet laureate of the crime world," George Pelecanos has created a novel about two scarred and fallible people who must navigate one of life's most brutal passages. It is an unforgettable, moving, even shocking story that will leave no reader unchanged.

Editorial Reviews Review

The real test of an author's skill is sometimes to be found not in an unusually conceived work, but in his or her ability to create a consuming tale out of what, in outline form, might sound like an all-too-familiar or mundane plot line. In another novelist's hands, for instance, Drama City might have been a perfectly serviceable but regrettably unmemorable story of redemption and revenge set in the grittier districts of Washington, D.C. But with George Pelecanos at the reins, it becomes a poignant, profound yarn about men--the good, the bad, and the still undecided--trying to find their footing amid the centrifugal forces at play in a modern inner city.

Pelecanos's first standalone after four consecutive novels starring private eye Derek Strange (including Soul Circus and Hard Revolution), Drama City introduces Lorenzo Brown, a young, black onetime criminal enforcer who's recently returned to the streets after doing eight years in prison on a felony drug charge. Crime and criminals had always been fundamental to Lorenzo's existence. ("Y'all know how that is. I ran with some boys, one in particular, and when those boys and my main boy went down to the corner I went with 'em. They were my people, the closest thing I ever had to male kin.") Since his release, though, he's been serving as a Humane Law Enforcement Officer with the Humane Society, protecting animals from the panoply of domestic cruelty, trying to leave both the drugs and the thugs behind. This attitude has won him a few champions, notably Rachel Lopez, his striking half-Jewish, half-Latina probation officer and friend, who spends her days "telling other people that they need to stay on track," but then goes off the rails at night, haunting hotel bars, picking up inappropriate guys, always frightened by the idea of a relationship "where she was not in complete control." Of course, these delicate balances of individual behavior are only possible in the absence of the unexpected. When a seemingly inconsequential mistake incites a lethal turf battle between rival gang bosses Nigel Johnson and Deacon Taylor, and Rachel is stabbed in the chest by a volatile, hopped-up gunman, Lorenzo finds his killer instincts returning to the fore. He must decide how far he's willing to go--and how much he's willing to lose--in order to exact retribution.

A simple plot on its face, yet given high stakes and a heroic edge by Pelecanos's portrayal of Brown as a man-in-progress struggling to secure his liberty from the past, helped along by his unexpectedly sympathetic former boss, childhood friend Nigel Johnson. Less satisfyingly rendered is Lopez, whose acrobatic swings to the wild side provide merely arousing diversions, without adequate character development. Bearing soul as well as teeth, Drama City gives off the air of a Greek tragedy. You know things are going to get bad before they turn worse, but Pelecanos keeps you riveted throughout. --J. Kingston Pierce

From Publishers Weekly

One of the finest writers in crime fiction today, Pelecanos once again delivers a moving story of life, death and survival on the streets of Washington, D.C. This time, he focuses on Lorenzo Brown, an ex-con who returns to his old neighborhood after serving eight years in prison. Doing his best to keep straight, Lorenzo prowls the streets rescuing abused animals as a Humane Society officer, but the violent actions of two rival drug gangs threaten to drag him back into his former thug life. Pelecanos knows the world he writes about—his streets, and the characters inhabiting them, throb with vivid authenticity. Unfortunately, Coleman, an articulate actor with a well-modulated voice, delivers Pelecanos's emotionally rich and descriptive prose in a dry, matter-of-fact tone. His is a competent line-by-line reading, but in the end, his detached delivery fails to capture the vitality and intimacy of the author's work. This is a shame, since the audio's abridgment, editing and incidental music are all top-notch. Simultaneous release with the Little, Brown hardcover (Forecasts, Feb. 21). (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 792 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (March 1, 2005)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FCK0LM
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #398,606 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
It's hard not to like a character who loves animals, even mean animals - the mad ones, the dirty, the underfed, the sick, vermin infested animals too, some trained to kill. Dogs, cats, parakeets, etc., they're Lorenzo Brown's thing. He's an officer for the Humane Society Law Enforcement team in Washington, D.C., and likes his job, a lot. Lorenzo figures if something is off with an animal, it's a human's fault, and is ready to paper offenders and serve search and/or arrest warrants if necessary. He saved his own dog, Jasmine, the night before her scheduled euthanization. She is the first pet he has every owned.

Brown is an ex-con, out on parole after 8 years in prison for a drug charge. He is determined to stay straight. Each morning, when he walks Jasmine, he passes the home of Nigel Johnson's mother. Occasionally, he will see Nigel there, along with a couple of young men wearing thick platinum chains. The troops lean against their rides - BMW coupes and sedans, a black Escalade, "tricked with spinners in the mix." The black GS430 with "dual pipes and aftermarket rims" belongs to Nigel, now a powerful drug kingpin, who is usually busy directing business, talking on his Nextel. Lorenzo and Nigel, both smart and ambitious as kids, had run the streets together, going back almost twenty-five years. Brown had done the righteous thing by his friend. He stayed silent when he was pressured to give Nigel up. Brown chose to serve his time instead. Now he has had enough of the life. His old friends don't quite get it, however.

Rachel Lopez also loves her work. She is Lorenzo's parole officer and one of the finest. She comes on tough initially and lays down the rules, but she wants all her people to make it. She has invested much of herself in their ultimate success.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pelecanos at His Best February 24, 2006
After loads of success with his earlier series, Pelecanos introduces two new protagonists in this excellent trip down Washington, D.C.'s mean streets. His work on the HBO series "The Wire", shows in the main character of Lorenzo, a drug crew thug recently off an eight-year stretch of jail after a third strike. Now he's trying to put the game behind him and live a square life as an enforcement officer for the city's Humane Society. Part of Lorenzo's routine involves reporting to his parole officer, the young, attractive Rachel Lopez. Given the D.C. area's substantial Latino population, it's taken Pelecanos a while to introduce one as a major character, but with Rachel he not only takes care of that, but has finally written a fully developed female character. She's not without her own issues, as alcoholism and anonymous sex threaten to lead her somewhere dark.

The story basically follows Lorenzo and Rachel around their daily rounds, providing a glimpse at the daily struggles they face simply to get along in the world. Like many of Pelecanos' characters, Lorenzo discovers satisfaction and pride in hard work, as he has to deal with both the nasty people who mistreat animals, and the mockery of the corner boys, who call him soft. He knows he's still as tough as they come, but he's also built the self-respect to realize that he doesn't need to prove anything to anyone. Meanwhile, Rachel has her own hard work, trying to keep her offenders on the straight path and a lid on her self-destructive behavior. Of course, since this is Pelecanos, they also get tangled up in an escalating beef between drug gangs, one of which is led by Lorenzo's old friend Nigel.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Don't get me wrong, I love George Pelecanos' book, writing style, characters, etc., but I was a little disappointed by this one. Maybe part of my frustration was that I didn't find any of the characters particularly engaging. Lorenzo Brown, the ex-con animal control officer, and his parole officer, Rachel Lopez, are Pelecanos' new protagonists of the book. I thought they were only loosely sketched out, and they didn't end up seeming as "human" or sympathetic as some of his other characters in previous works. Because of that, I was somewhat bored with the novel's pacing; it seems to plod along more than most of Pelecanos' other books.

I won't go over the plot or main characters in great detail, as many of the previous reviewers have already done so at great length. The reader is presented with an almost inevitable outcome for the book -- doom. But that's clearly appropriate for Pelecanos' modern noir style. The book is written in Pelecanos' gritty, street-smart style, and his knowledge and portrayal of DC is as good as ever. He certainly can't be criticized on those accounts.

Having criticized the book, I should note that it was an enjoyable read (significantly better than most modern crime fiction on the market) and I fully intend to read Mr. Pelecanos' future efforts. I'd recommend the book to any die-hard fans of Pelecanos or modern crime / noir fiction. Casual readers might be better advised to read some of Pelecanos' other books first in order to truly see how engaging of a writer he can be. I think if I'd simply liked the protagonists a bit more, I'd have rated this one higher; as is, I just didn't care about them enough.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars a good read
I enjoyed reading this largely due to the familiar neighborhood references in DC. The story is well written and very believable for that era.
Published 1 month ago by Alison Bain-Peachey
4.0 out of 5 stars good read
Excellent pace and a unique concept, combining the drug trade world with animal welfare. I enjoyed the story beginning to end.
Published 4 months ago by Stephen Fried
3.0 out of 5 stars I keep trying to like Pelecanos, but I have a very hard time ...
I keep trying to like Pelecanos, but I have a very hard time with his writing. The characters in this book are somewhat compelling, but he does something in all of his books that... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Jon Weiman
3.0 out of 5 stars george has gone to the trough too many times
i love george's novels,,,i recommended this one to my reading club,,,one refused to read it,,,one put it down about 30% thru,,,it is the same old drill,,,but it did not have the... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Penny
3.0 out of 5 stars Warning: Some coverage of dog fighting
Murder and gang wars in Washington, D.C., including some who make it and some who don't.  Helps with understanding of how people get caught up in these activities by looking at... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Buddha Baby
5.0 out of 5 stars No one can tell the story like George P. !!
I'm convinced George Pelecanos is unlike all other humans, based on how he tells the story and how he draws me in to read. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Patricia N. Beavers
3.0 out of 5 stars quickly devoured
A fast read. Be warned though, this book does have some unflinchingly brutal dog-fight passages, and that kind of thing can be a lotta no fun. Read more
Published 16 months ago by David J. Keaton
4.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should be reading Pelecanos' books
Lorenzo Brown has gotten his life back in order. Having recently been released from prison for drug and gang-related crimes, he's now gainfully employed as an officer for the... Read more
Published on July 21, 2011 by manly-but-bookish
4.0 out of 5 stars D. C. in Profile, Pelecanos at His Best
This is a terrific read -- Lorenzo Brown is one of Pelecanos' best creations and through his eyes the darker sides of Washington come alive. Read more
Published on May 30, 2011 by J. Smallridge
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb crime story about redemption and second chances
One of the things I've come to love about George Pelecanos is the way he can take simple, even archetypal stories and spin them into profound, moving portraits of human, flawed... Read more
Published on April 18, 2011 by Josh Mauthe
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More About the Author

George P. Pelecanos was born in Washington, DC in 1957. His first novel was published in 1992 and alongside his consequential success as an author, he has also worked as producer, writer and story editor for the acclaimed and award-winning US crime series, The Wire. His writing for the show earned him an Emmy nomination.

He is the author of fifteen crime novels set in and around Washington, DC. The Big Blowdown was the recipient of the International Crime Novel of the Year award in both Germany and Japan; King Suckerman was shortlisted for the Gold Dagger Award in the UK. His short fiction has appeared in Esquire and the collections Unusual Suspects and Best American Mystery Stories of 1997. He is an award-winning journalist and pop-culture essayist who has written for the Washington Post.

Pelecanos can also claim credit for involvement in the production of several feature films. Most recently, as a screenwriter for film, he has written an adaptation of King Suckerman for Dimension Films, and was co-writer on the Paid in Full.

His novel Right as Rain is currently in development with director Curtis Hanson (LA Confidential, Wonder Boys) and Warner Brothers. He is a writer on the upcoming World War II miniseries The Pacific, to be produced by Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg, and HBO. Pelecanos lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife and three children. He is at work on his next novel.

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