Orion £9.99 (260pp) £9.49 from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
What It Was, By George Pelecanos
Arifa Akbar is literary editor of The Independent and i newspapers. She has worked at The Independent since 2001 as a news reporter and arts correspondent before joining the books desk in 2009. She was a judge for the Orwell Prize for books 2013, and the Fiction Uncovered Prize 2014, and is currently judging the Aesthetica Magazine new writing prize.
Friday 23 March 2012
It is 1972, the year of Watergate, and another investigation is taking place on the mean streets of Washington DC.
A heroin addict cum police informer is found shot dead, as a woman approaches private detective Derek Strange, asking him to retrieve a ring that she lent the dead man.
The plots unspools from here, and as Strange's path crosses with his one-time colleague, the police homocide detective Frank Vaughn, the story broadens into a vivid portrait of 1970s America in which black communities are still struggling for recognition.
Pelecanos, a writer on feted TV dramas The Wire and Treme, writes in his signature hard-boiled noir style. Sharp, staccato storytelling, even if characterisation seems a little derivative.
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