Let’s follow up yesterday’s Pelecanos review with another.
Drama City isn’t bad, it’s just not as good of some of Pelecanos’ other books. Don’t get me wrong, I love George Pelecanos’ book, writing style, characters, etc., but I was a little disappointed by this one. Maybe part of my frustration was that I didn’t find any of the characters particularly engaging. Lorenzo Brown, the ex-con animal control officer, and his parole officer, Rachel Lopez, are Pelecanos’ new protagonists of the book. I thought they were only loosely sketched out, and they didn’t end up seeming as “human” or sympathetic as some of his other characters in previous works. Because of that, I was somewhat bored with the novel’s pacing; it seems to plod along more than most of Pelecanos’ other books.
I won’t go over the plot or main characters in great detail, as you can find other reviews that do so at great length. The reader is presented with an almost inevitable outcome for the book — doom. But that’s clearly appropriate for Pelecanos’ modern noir style. The book is written in Pelecanos’ gritty, street-smart style, and his knowledge and portrayal of DC is as good as ever. He certainly can’t be criticized on those accounts.
Having criticized the book at the start, however, I should note that it was an enjoyable read (significantly better than most modern crime fiction on the market) and I fully intend to read Mr. Pelecanos’ future efforts. I’d recommend the book to any die-hard fans of Pelecanos or modern crime / noir fiction. Casual readers might be better advised to read some of Pelecanos’ other books first in order to truly see how engaging of a writer he can be. I think if I’d simply liked the protagonists a bit more, I’d have rated this one higher; as is, I just didn’t care about them enough.
3 stars out of 5
Review copyright 2008 J. Andrew Byers