Way back in 1972, three white boys drove into the black part of town with an eye toward starting some trouble. One boy wound up dead and the lives of three boys were changed forever. Now it's forty years later and Charles Baker thinks someone owes him for the year he did in prison...
Once again, George Pelecanos serves up a tale of redemption and forgetting the past, set against his usual Washington DC backdrop. Of all the George Pelecanos books I've read, this one is the least like a crime novel, although it does have some crime elements, most of which have to do with Charles Baker.
Alex Pappas, diner owner, has a chance encounter with Raymond Monroe, one of the black boys involved in the incident in his past that left him scarred both emotionally and physically. Raymond's brother James is the one charged with the shooting of Pappas' best friend back in the 70's. Meanwhile, Charles Baker, friend of the Monroe boys, is a waste of skin who's living with the mother of an aspiring drug dealer and begins planning to take over the youth's drug business.
Like a lot of Pelecanos' novels, one of the themes in The Turnaround is that it's possible to rise above rough beginnings or let them drag you down. It's also about talking about cars, basketball, music, and the restaurant business.
There's not a lot I have to say about this novel. It's a character driven book, even more than most of Pelecanos' books, and there's not a whole lot that actually happens aside from Charles Baker trying to shake people down and getting out of his depth. That being said, I couldn't wait for someone to take Baker out.
I wasn't too excited about this one after reading the dust jacket and mostly read it to get it out of the way. It's more literary than most of Pelecanos' books and pretty well written. Three stars.