Bleak, gritty and moving, Soul Circus superbly brings to life a devastating story of life and death in Washington's black ghettos.
Private Investigator Derek Strange and his partner, Terry Quinn, are running a detective business in the seedy underbelly of Washington, DC when they are approached by a young man asking them to find his girlfriend who has gone missing. And so Strange and Quinn find her.
Just another day? Not quite. In the grimy underworld inhabited by Strange, nothing is that simple. For Strange and Quinn's efforts have led to a young mother being brutally murdered -- a devastating discovery that causes them both to question the morality by which they live. And yet at the same time they need to continue the search for another missing girl, a teenage runaway who shows up in a porn video. And who hasn't been seen since.
Step by step, Strange and his partner are drawn into the darkness, confronting gunrunners, crime lords, drug dealers, and ordinary people caught up in the ruthless violence of the business. Soul Circus is a heart-stopping thriller that could only have been written by George Pelecanos, the writer who "has gone from cult favorite to acknowledged master" (Booklist).
PI Derek Strange continues to prowl the South East quadrant of Washington, D.C., in Pelecanos's 11th novel (after Hell to Pay), which caroms madly and brilliantly between warring drug crews, opportunistic gun dealers and intimidated witnesses. Strange is hired by lawyers defending Granville Oliver, a murderous high-profile drug dealer now headed for death row. Strange has to locate a reliable witness who could earn Granville a commutation to life in prison. His best bet is Devra Stokes, the former girlfriend of Philip Wood, a deputy drug dealer who had worked under Oliver and testified against his boss. Stokes filed a brutality complaint against Wood, and Strange might be able to cast doubt on Wood's credibility, if he can only find the disgruntled ex-girlfriend. Strange is growing weary of the dejection in this neighborhood, of fatherless black boys who become gullible thugs who go on to orphan another generation. But the real crime, Pelecanos suggests, is the ready supply of firearms ("Simple as buying a carton of milk. And you didn't even need big money to do it... the community could chip in to buy one. What they called a neighborhood gun"). These guns, Pelecanos reminds us, are wielded by little more than children who want to impress their friends. Dewayne and Mario Durham, teenaged brothers trying to work their way up the ladder of thugdom, are prime examples, and Mario's blind allegiance to his smarter younger brother has terrible consequences. The ensemble cast also includes charismatic mercenary gun dealer Ulysses Foreman. Foreman and Strange are the oldest characters in the cast, and as the body count rises, Pelecanos keeps readers guessing as to who will bow first. This is vintage Pelecanos, with characters to remember, dialogue that rocks, an unsentimental, kinetic tableau of the D.C. underworld and, most of all, a conscience.
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I grew up in DC and this book took me back with it's intense and thorough description of life on the streets of southeast DC. I couldn't put it down! I enjoyed the twists in the book and and I truly liked that the protagonist of the novel was down to earth and seems so real. I really liked ending. You win some, you lose some. If I had known about this author before, I would have read his books from the beginning. Quinn and Strange had a very unique relationship that kept me interested in there actions. All of the characters had baggage one way or another. I loved the way all of their lives seemed to intertwine effortlessly. Kudos to the author.