George P. Pelecanos
Little Brown, Aug 2008, $24.99
In 1972, three suburban teenage white friends (Alex Pappas, Billy Cachoris and Pete Whitten) are stoned having smoked marihuana and drank alcohol. As high as they ever been, the trio cruises D.C in a Torino stopping in a poor black neighborhood where they challenge three local males (brothers James and Raymond Monroe and Charles Baker). The ensuing brawl leaves Billy dead and Alex severely battered.
In 2007, Alex grieves the loss of his son, a combat casualty in Iraq. He owns and runs the Pappas and Sons Coffee Shop that his father established in 1964. At Walter Reed Raymond Monroe, one of the three blacks involved in the deadly fight, recognizes Alex’s name. Raymond thinks maybe he can put somewhat behind him the mess that has haunted him for thirty-five years by talking with Alex so he contacts the coffee shop owner; Alex too needs clsoure. At about the same time, Baker who destroyed Alex’s face has just left prison with a plan to blackmail the participants in the ’72 race war.
This stand alone urban thriller hooks the audience from the opening joyride and never let’s goes as the audience wonders whether Alex and Raymond will find liberation from their overwhelming guilt for their respective roles in the fight or a second war. The key cast members are fully developed so that the reader understands what they need and what they could lose if they risk THE TURNAROUND of redemption and ignore the extortion. George P. Pelecanos writes a great tale that will be on everyone’s short list for thriller of the year as the DC area has rarely seen as imposing as it does in 1972 and 2007.