Author of the Month
Name: George Pelecanos
Most Recent Book: The Way Home
'...a book about second chances, greed and redemption, but chiefly it is about a relationship between a father and son...'
Thomas Flynn deposits his seventeen year old son, Chris at a juvenile prison, Pine Ridge near Washington, D.C. His heart is broken but he is resolute: he has done everything he can to give Chris the best possible start in life, but something in his son just isn't working. He had stepped in on numerous occasions to stave off the threat of the law, but now its time his son faced up to his mistakes. There is more to life than street fights, car chases and smoking pot and if it takes a stay in “juvvie” to learn this, then so be it.
Inside, Chris is quickly nicknamed “Whiteboy”; all the other boys are black and from the infamous D.C. projects. Life in Pine Ridge is tough and the threat of violence is a constant, but Chris learns to adapt and makes friends that he will take into the real world when his time is served.
Ten years later, Chris and the friends he made at Pine Ridge appear reformed. Chris himself has a job, thanks to his father, a girlfriend, and even his own apartment. But when he and the others are innocently caught up in a burglary, old habits and instincts rise to the surface, threatening this hard-won stability with treachery and even, murder. Tensions between father and son have always hovered overhead, unspoken but tangible, while their troubled relationship builds tentatively from distrust and scorn toward mutual respect and love. Until Chris's fresh troubles threaten everything they have been working towards these past years.
Is this the final straw or will Thomas do whatever he can to help his son?
On the jacket of this book, Stephen King opines that George Pelecanos is “perhaps the greatest living crime writer” and who am I to argue with the great man? Pelecanos is of course one of the team who work on The Wire and the author of 15 previous novels that chronicle life in Washington D.C.
What Pelecanos brings to his work is a great verisimilitude. He has clearly walked those mean streets and he captures the mindset, the challenges and even the verbal tics of its inhabitants with a faithfulness and clarity that is captivating, powerful and startling.
The Way Home is a book about second chances, greed and redemption, but chiefly it is about a relationship between a father and son; the former flawed but trying his very best, while the son is lost in a morass of peer pressure, easy availability of the bad stuff and the fear that he can only fail to live up to his father's expectations. This relationship is acutely observed and the fact that Pelecanos succeeds in this approach while maintaining the conventions that every mystery/ thriller fan demands is a testament to his talent.
Reviewed by: M.M.