Books by George Pelecanos

George Pelecanos is a screenwriter, independent-film producer, award-winning journalist, and the author of the bestselling series of Derek Strange novels set in and around Washington, D.C., where he lives with his wife and children.


THE DOUBLE by George Pelecanos
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 1, 2013

"Cult favorite Pelecanos deserves an even wider readership."
The second in a series featuring a new investigator represents an update for the veteran mystery novelist. Read full book review >
THE CUT by George Pelecanos
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Aug. 29, 2011

"Another tough, heart-rending odyssey through a war zone in which every denizen has the potential to be both hero and villain."
Pelecanos' newest hero walks the mean streets of the Nation's Capital with all the piercing hopes and fears and personal baggage of the others (The Way Home, 2009, etc.). Read full book review >
THE WAY HOME by George Pelecanos
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: May 12, 2009

"Redemption the hard way, well-crafted and deeply felt."
A crime novel, yes, but the talented Pelecanos (The Turnaround, 2008, etc.) shoves it out of its comfort zone. Read full book review >
THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2008 by George Pelecanos
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Oct. 8, 2008

"An eminently worthwhile collection, though perhaps not for those prone to Weltschmerz."
The 12th annual edition of this anthology, whose general editor is Otto Penzler, collects 20 blue-ribbon entries, all dressed up in impeccable noir. Read full book review >
THE TURNAROUND by George Pelecanos
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 1, 2008

"Like his kindred spirits who have also written scripts for HBO's The Wire, Pelecanos deserves the sort of popular breakthrough that Richard Price and Dennis Lehane have enjoyed."
Once again using the ethnic neighborhoods of Washington, D.C., to explore issues of class and race, and the possibility of bridging those gulfs, Pelecanos (The Night Gardener, 2006, etc.) constructs a taut narrative in which the past exerts a seismic pull on the present. Read full book review >
THE NIGHT GARDENER by George Pelecanos
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Aug. 8, 2006

"The best American comparison, in fact, is James Lee Burke, who also keeps writing the same churning book over and over and clearly hates to come to the last page just as much as Pelecanos."
You can take Pelecanos out of his two DC series starring Nick Stefanos (Shame the Devil, 2000, etc.) and Derek Strange (Hard Revolution, 2004, etc.), but you can't take the impulse to turn District crime into a serial epic out of Pelecanos. Read full book review >
D.C. NOIR by George Pelecanos
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 1, 2006

"Mostly, though, the bleak carnival of street crime goes hand in hand with a worldview so deterministic you'd swear nothing could ever change."
According to these 16 new stories, life in the nation's capital ranks with afterlife in the lower circles of hell. Read full book review >
DRAMA CITY by George Pelecanos
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 22, 2005

"The dog-eat-dog metaphor, borrowed perhaps from the film Amores Perros, provides a brutal, tender new way for Pelecanos to get at his great subject: the miraculous survival of lilies among the toxic weeds of the Nation's Capital. "
Pelecanos takes a break from the continuing sagas of DC cop Derek Strange (Hard Revolution, 2003, etc.) and DC private eye Nick Stefanos (Shame the Devil, 2000, etc.) for an equally unsparing stand-alone tale of two cops who aren't quite cops. Read full book review >
HARD REVOLUTION by George Pelecanos
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 9, 2004

"The most conventionally ambitious of Pelecanos's sprawling studies of D.C. crime: pat in its sociological determinism, harrowing in its portraits of each hopeless loser and the few ex-losers who escape."
Pelecanos's latest Extra Dark slice of Washington street crime leaps back a generation to connect the backstory of private eye Derek Strange (Soul Circus, 2003, etc.) to the murder of Martin Luther King. Read full book review >
SOUL CIRCUS by George Pelecanos
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 4, 2003

"The bleak, powerful fadeout reserves resolution mostly for the dead; the living will clearly have to take their chances in whatever blistering sequel their talented creator has planned."
It's official: Pelecanos's latest dispatch from the trenches of the nation's capital shows his prodigious ambition overflowing the bounds of one novel into a torrential epic of cops and robbers. Read full book review >
HELL TO PAY by George Pelecanos
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Feb. 27, 2002

"Despite all the scenes illustrating the hopelessness of growing up in the nation's capital, the author's ardent muckraking makes his tenth novel his most hopeful, even though it takes the edge off his trademark grasp of urban evil."
A drive-by shooting that ordinarily wouldn't even rate the front page of the Washington Post Metro section pits p.i. Derek Strange (Right as Rain, 2001) against a city full of men behaving badly. Read full book review >
RIGHT AS RAIN by George Pelecanos
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 6, 2001

Pelecanos's eighth novel packs his niftiest premise yet: Two ex-D.C. cops, one turned p.i. and the other sidelined after shooting a brother officer, join forces to clear the victim's name. Read full book review >
SHAME THE DEVIL by George Pelecanos
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Jan. 11, 2000

After a three-book hiatus, Nick Stefanos rejoins the Pelecanos repertory company (The Sweet Forever, 1998, etc.) and delivers another bravura performance. Read full book review >

THE SWEET FOREVER by George Pelecanos
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Aug. 3, 1998

Marcus Clay and Dimitri Karras want very much to mind their own business, but that's not the way their karmas crumble, as Pelecanos makes clear in this rousing, raunchy sequel to King Suckerman (1997). Read full book review >

KING SUCKERMAN by George Pelecanos
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Aug. 11, 1997

"As Eddie Spags would say, this book smokes."
A routine drug deal goes bad on the eve of Washington's bicentennial festivities, decimating Pelecanos's big, juicy cast. Read full book review >
THE BIG BLOWDOWN by George Pelecanos
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: May 28, 1996

"If it's not quite as original or resonant as the Big Book Pelecanos seems to have had in mind, you'll still find yourself feeling everything you're supposed to about the familiar demi-heroic types and their grim postwar world."
Pelecanos follows four mysteries—three about D.C. appliance salesman/barman Nick Stefanos (Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go, 1995, etc.)—with this crossover prequel showing the warmly seamy side of Nick's Grill back in 1949. Read full book review >
DOWN BY THE RIVER WHERE THE DEAD MEN GO by George Pelecanos
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: June 22, 1995

"1993, etc.), get an A, though the case is the sort of five-finger exercise usually associated with tired old pros resting up between their big events."
Pelecanos returns from the striking Shoedog (1994) to the saga of D.C. barman and sometime shamus Nick Stefanos. Read full book review >
SHOEDOG by George Pelecanos
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: May 15, 1994

"More fun than a Late Show marathon—starting with The Asphalt Jungle."
Constantine, a drifter who's been too many places to care about anything that won't fit into his backpack, hitches a ride into trouble when Polk, the old man who picks him up outside DC, stops off, and gets turned down, for the $20,000 in dirty money his Korean War buddy Grimes owes him. Read full book review >
NICK'S TRIP by George Pelecanos
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: March 22, 1993

"But there are still some great scenes, great people, and great background music."
Two cases for D.C. shamus Nick Stefanos, who's left his job at Nutty Nathan's (A Firing Offense, 1992) to patrol the bar at the Spot. Read full book review >
A FIRING OFFENSE by George Pelecanos
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: April 1, 1992

"This debut is promising—but better wait for Pelecanos to throw better stuff."
Meet Nick Stefanos, hard-drinking, heavy-metal-loving D.C. appliance salesman who talks so much like a private eye that stockboy Jimmy Broda's grandfather insists that he find the missing boy, who was fired after he stopped showing up for work—and who was last seen with novice druggie Eddie "Redman" Shultz and dangerously experienced Kim Lazarus. Read full book review >