|Pages/Publication Date:||230 / 2013|
Constantine was born in D.C., and has been traveling the world ever since, finding everything but a home. Randolph has stayed in this city every day, selling shoes in a downtown store, a self-confessed "shoedog" taking care of ladies who lie about their sizes and sometimes fit him into their beds. These two strangers, one white, one black, have come together in a criminal's audacious plan with five other partners. Constantine doesn't understand the treacheries, feuds, and fantasies swirling around him, and he's fallen for a woman who only doubles his risk. But Randolph can smell trouble a mile away, and when the shooting starts, he'll give Constantine a chance to live—or else die where he was born. Esquire magazine hailed George Pelecanos as "the poet laureate of the D.C. crime world"; Stephen King described the Hammett Awardwinning novelist and Emmy-nominated television writer even more succinctly, deeming Pelecanos "perhaps the greatest living American crime writer." One of our favorite authors here at Daedalus, Pelecanos grew up in the Washington, D.C., neighborhoods that the tourists and Congressmen never see, and the real star of his gritty hard-luck stories is the city itself.
"Hitchhiking south from Maryland to nowhere, Constantine takes a lift from an old man who stops at a country mansion to get some money. There Grimes, an equally old but wealthy man who organizes heists as a hobby, invites the pair to help rob two D.C. liquor stores. Swayed by 'the Beat' ('the Beat was knowing that he was into something wrong, and the fear of it, and the point when the fear was no longer there. It was a hot buzz'), Constantine signs on as a driver. He and his colleagues, who are all being blackmailed by Grimes, drink, plan and pick up women, with Constantine dangerously zeroing in on Grimes's young lover ('there was a freshness in her like newly printed money'). The robberies themselves, marred by a doublecross, go down fast and bad, leading Constantine to avenge his fallen partners by taking justice into his own hands. All sinners, none saints, the small-time hoods in this authentic world are crisply limned here in their fallible humanity."—Publishers Weekly