- Series: Pelecanos, George
- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (March 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316608971
- ISBN-13: 978-0316608978
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 54 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #972,666 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hard Revolution: A Novel Hardcover – March, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
The author's admirers are familiar with middle-aged black PI Derek Strange, featured in several novels (Soul Circus, etc.) so strong that one critic has dubbed Pelecanos the Zola of contemporary crime fiction. This memorable tale is a prequel to those novels, set in Washington, D.C., mostly just before and during the 1968 riots sparked by the killing of Martin Luther King Jr. The first few chapters, though, unfold in 1959, introducing major characters whose paths will entwine later: Derek-who's nabbed for shoplifting but given a break that will set his life on a (more or less) law-abiding pat-hand his older brother, Dennis; their hardworking parents; and some ancillary figures. By 1968, Derek is a young cop partnered with a white guy; Dennis is a pot-smoking slacker; and many of their acquaintances from '59 are working dead-end jobs with an eye toward crime. The ensuing narrative swirls around two scenarios: a plan by Dennis and two street-thug pals to rob a local Greek-owned store (Pelecanos wrote extensively about D.C.'s Greek community in early novels, and many of the nonblack characters here are Greek-American) and a plot by three young white hoods to rob a bank, but only after they drunkenly kill a young black man for sport. The action is fueled by the heat of race relations, which Pelecanos explores with acuity-particularly in his portrayal of Derek, who as a black cop is considered an enemy by many other blacks. Written in rich, observant prose, the novel is a brilliant study of a society tearing apart as racial tensions escalate after the King killing; no wonder some observers have pointed to Pelecanos as the kind of thriller writer who should be nominated for a National Book Award.
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From Bookmarks Magazine
Pelecanos first introduced a 50-something Derek Strange in Right as Rain, Hell to Pay, and Soul Circus. Hard Revolution takes us back in time and juxtaposes Derek's childhood with his early years as a cop. Pelecanos, a hard-boiled crime writer, sets this novel, like his previous ones, in a gritty, violent, and racist Washington, D.C. He makes no excuses for the era or place, describing the city and its workings in detailed, urgent, and often offensive prose. It's not a page-turner, but rather a window into the hope--and despair--of an era. The characters seek redemption, but don't always find it. At heart, notes The New York Times Book Review, the story speaks to "the ways Americans love, betray, help and cannot help one another."
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
All in all, if you like DC or want to enjoy a crystal-clear view of a time and place, this is your book.
So, some observations. All three of the books have included an extended prologue, which backgrounds the characters in the main part of the story, and sets the stage for what's to occur in the main part of the book. This latest book, Hard Revolution, does this differently from the other two, because here Pelecanos is writing a prequel to some later detective stories he was writing, with his main character detective learning his place in the world, so to speak. So as a result, the first part of the book takes place in 1959, and the main part of the story nine years later, in 1968.
Second, Pelecanos is clearly a person who pays a lot of attention to pop culture. Reading his books one imagines he's one of those guys who can tell you who covered a particular song by a particular artist, who wrote it, when it was released, whether it was a hit, and so forth, and do this for practically everything you can imagine. At least half the scenes in Hard Revolution are set with some reference to music from the period. The author also tells you about cars, and other items of pop culture or commerce that the characters use, in considerable detail.
Third, the author has a thing for secrets buried in the past. Considering that I grew up reading Ross MacDonald, this is a good way to rope me into reading these books; the idea that someone has done something, gotten away with it, and now, many years later, may have to face the consequences, has always been appealing. No one likes to think these people get away with stuff forever.
One last thing that's interesting. Most novelists have trouble setting their stories in the middle of events in the outside world. Those events tend to distract from the main plot, and that would worry some; your plot has to be pretty strong to stand up to such distractions. Hard Revolution, set during 1968, with Johnson quitting the presidency, King getting shot, and so forth, uses the events of that year (or some of them anyway) to provide context for what's going on in the main plot.
I really enjoyed this book, the plot, the characters, and the action. I would recommend it.