It's 1976 and everyone's talking about King Suckerman, the new blaxploitation flick that's in the theaters. When Marcus Clay and Dimitri Karras wind up with a pile of cash after a drug deal gone wrong, everyone's after their hides, including a thug named Wilton Cooper and his gang, and an Italian named Tony Spags, who wants his money and his girl, who's shacking up with Karras. Can Clay and Karras give the money back without getting killed?
Here we are, the second book in George Pelecanos' DC Quartet. Pelecanos weaves a tale worthy of Elmore Leonard, set around our nations capital around the time a film called King Suckerman has everyone's attention. Pelecanos continues to develop the Washington DC of the Pelecanosverse, as Kemper calls it.
It's a pretty straightforward crime tale about ill-gotten gains and murder. What makes it so good is Pelecanos' writing, specifically how well he develops his characters. You've got Cooper, Claggett, and the Thomas brothers, the killers of the piece, Spags and Tate, the lowlifes in over their heads, and Clay and Karras, the regular guys caught up in things. With the exception of the Thomas brothers, the characters are all well drawn and fairly realistic. Cooper was so slick I almost wanted him to live through everything. The action is pretty intense when it happens and the dialogue is almost as smooth as Elmore Leonard's in his prime.
Interesting side note, I bought Eldorado Red by Donald Goines at the same time I bought this. Imagine my surprise when Goines makes a cameo appearance in the tale.
Much like The Cut, I can't really find anything to complain about with King Suckerman. Pelecanos is quickly climbing the ranks of my favorite crime writers.Also posted at Shelf Inflicted