ABOUT THE BOOK:
Outside, Michael encounters a Washington, D.C.
Smart and fast-paced, The Man Who Came Uptown brings Washington, D.C.
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The Man Who Came Uptown by George Pelecanos
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Man Who Came Uptown by George Pelecanos is a 2018 Mulholland publication.
This is the first book by George Pelecanos, I’ve read in many years. I have a handful of his novels on my shelves, both print and digital, I needed to read first, but this one was so highly recommended to me by many of my Goodreads friends, I had to read this one immediately- and I’m so glad I did!
This crime novel is fittingly dedicated to Charles Willeford and Elmore Leonard. The tribute is both subtle and obvious.
This is a well-crafted crime novel, which is to be expected from a seasoned author who has built a solid reputation writing mystery/ thrillers- of course, he is just as respected for his television manuscripts.
This story, however, almost becomes philosophical, giving the reader a lot more to ponder on than the mystery and various criminal vignettes acted out by this exquisitely flawed cast of characters.
Book lovers and fans of literary fiction will drool over the storyline involving Anna, who works at the jail in the book group program, and Michael, a prisoner upon which she, and her book recommendations have an enormous impact.
Michael’s jail term is significantly reduced, and he is released after a PI named Phil Ornazian does a little wheeling and dealing on his behalf. Phil’s motives aren’t exactly pure, however. As it happens, our PI, and family man, Phil, has a lucrative side business, where he robs pimps and other criminals of their ill-gotten gains.
Phil, along with his sidekick, Thaddeus Ward, are hired to discover who robbed a wealthy family and violated their teenage daughter while they were away on vacation. Phil, who obviously plays loose and fast with the law, all but blackmails Michael, who is determined to play it straight and get his life in order, into driving a getaway car for him.
Meanwhile, Michael and Anna, who is married, meet by chance, rekindling their friendship, sharing more book recommendations and flirting with an illicit attraction to one another.
While there is a gritty crime drama, a mystery to solve, a fair amount of action, and few nail- biting moments in the story, what stands out the most are the characterizations. Is one crime worse than the other? After repeated failures, has Michael finally put his criminal escapades behind him? How has Anna’s influence on him and his newly acquired love of literature influenced him? Will Anna pursue something beyond friendship with Michael, or will she remain loyal to her husband?
I loved this book! I didn’t go into it with extra high expectations, thinking of it only in terms of crime fiction. What I got was something far more in depth and redeeming. It’s
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
George Pelecanos was born in Washington, D.C.
in 1957. He worked as a line cook, dishwasher, bartender, and woman's shoe salesman before publishing his first novel in 1992.
Pelecanos is the author of eighteen novels set in and around Washington, D.C.: A Firing Offense, Nick's Trip, Shoedog, Down By the River Where the Dead Men Go, The Big Blowdown, King Suckerman, The Sweet Forever, Shame the Devil
Pelecanos served as producer on the feature films Caught (Robert M. Young, 1996), Whatever (Susan Skoog, 1998)
Pelecanos lives with his family in Silver Spring, Maryland.