George Pelecanos – Right as Rain

right as rain

Read Nov 2014

The story: private detective Strange is asked to look into the death of black cop (Wilson) who was killed off duty; he hooks up with the white cop (Quinn) who killed him and they end up working together, uncovering a drug operation that resulted in Wilson’s sister (Sondra) becoming an abused drug addict. Quinn did kill Wilson but it turns out that he was a pawn in bigger game. In the end Strange and Quinn take down the drug killers and rescue Sondra in a big showdown.

Right as rain is a good book as far as it goes – it’s kind of like The Wire, but without the depth, and a Quentin Tarantino film, but without the cool. The story is good, kind of makes sense, and as always George Pelecanos does dialogue and realism really well. And he tackles big issues like inequality, racism and drug use.

But, but, but . . . I can’t help feeling it’s all so formulaic now. Not just the plot but the characterisation, the heroic but flawed main character who saves the day but is plagued by insecurities stemming from a dark and difficult past that he tries to overcome everyday. Pelecanos’s Nick Stefanos novels and the DC Quarter felt fresh, but the more recent novels, less so.