George Pelecanos has a produced a novel of such gut-wrenching excitement readers will find it all but impossible not to read it in a single sitting.
In 1970s Washington D.C., private investigator Derek Strange is approached by a young woman asking for his help recovering a cheap ring she claims has sentimental value. He is lead to ex-partner Frank "Hound Dog" Vaughn's turf, where a local drug addict has been shot in his apartment.
It is the dialogue and sense of time and place that is most notable about What It Was as both sit so naturally together; the reader is easily and somehow magically transported back forty years in a single page-turn. Yet without believable, three-dimensional characters even the best dialogue is wasted and, here, Pelecanos more than delivers the goods, particularly with Red Jones and Frank Vaughn, whose toughness and determination shines like a bright light across the prose.
This is as good as anybody has a right to expect from up-to-the minute, exhilarating crime fiction and long may the masters of the genre – an elite band of which Pelecanos can justly call himself a member – continue to create scenarios such as this for our delight and delectation.