Wednesday, August 22, 2007

33. Shame the Devil by George P. Pelecanos

Shame the Devil pictureShame the Devil is the fourth book of the Washington Quartet. Here are my reviews of the first, second and third. I'll talk about this book on its own first and then briefly discuss the whole series. In Shame the Devil, the main protagonist, Dmitri Karras, is in his 40's, older and wiser and at the very beginning quite happy. This doesn't last long. I'm not going to tell you what happens, even though it's in the very first chapter, because if you start on the series, it will still be a spoiler for you. But his happiness is taken away from him and we fast forward a few years. The story now finds Dmitri slowly pulling his life back together when the cause of his downfall in the first place returns.

Shame the Devil weaves a semi-objective crime story, following the paths of two sociopathic, professional criminals, with a story of adulthood and recovery, with a tablespoon of revenge. Pelecanos books always move forward and his settings and characters are rich and engaging. Where the third book bogged down a bit, becoming too dark and too concerned with which song was being played or what kind of clothes people were wearing, here he seems to have found his balance again. It's a quick, entertaining and moving book. It redeemed the quartet in my eyes.

I think it's a bit erroneous to refer to these four books as "the Washington Quartet". I believe he has other books that take place in D.C. and characters here definitely show up in other lines of his. I believe that Nick Stefanos has his own series and he is one of the major characters here. I could be wrong. Nevertheless, the four books make a very satisfying story arc. They are realistic and the characters complex. And they definitely give me a great sense of a city that has abandoned its roots. I can see why Pelecanos got tapped to write for the Wire. This is good stuff and gives me some hope for our otherwise wasted generation.

Of the four, though, the first is still definitely my favorite.


Unknown said...

You managed to read the quartet plus many others in seven months which speaks to this series being good.

I'll definitely keep an eye out for The Big Blowdown.

The Wire Season 5 (and final season) should be starting sometime in February 2008.

Crumbolst said...

33 and it's only August!

OlmanFeelyus said...

Oh yeah, these books definitely go fast. They are absorbing due to a combo of compelling characters in situations that are dynamic, with a payoff looming and generally fluid and engaging writing.

And 33 is okay, but the Carrot is kicking ass this year!