- 27 Jan 19
Ill-gotten Gains and Low-life Types In TV Man's Latest Thriller
Pelecanos, perhaps better known for his TV work on The Wire, Treme, and The Deuce, has been cranking out cracking Washington-based crime novels for over twenty-five years, although you could very easily argue that those TV shows – The Wire in particular – are more novelistic in form than anything else. This one concerns crooked investigator Phil Ornazian and his equally morally ambiguous pal Thaddeus Ward who pick up a few extra bob taking ill-gotten gains from low-life types who show up on their radar. Michael Hudson, about to be released from prison thanks to a surprising change-of-mind by a local dope dealer, has a newly discovered passion for reading. What author, you might ask, wouldn’t be interested in selling this idea of redemption through the embrace of the written word, but to be fair, this was inspired by Pelecanos’ own involvement in prison literacy programmes. Hudson is determined to make a go of the straight life, but Ornazian, calling in a pretty big favour, has other plans, needing a wheelman.
As the plot develops, a sense of foreboding takes over, the reader knowing things are going to end badly for some if not all of these people. Pelecanos paints Hudson’s struggles well, he’s a man who doesn’t want to go back to the life but can see little other option. The main female character, prison librarian Anna Byrne - her affection for Hudson grows as they meet up again in the outside world - is also well handled. As the plot races to its denouement, you’ll find yourself caring about what happens to those involved, the mark of a writer doing their job properly.