What It Was, By George Pelecanos


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.