you liked the movie “Seven” and Raymond Chandler
novels, and wanted to mix a cocktail of both in a novel
that might just lead to film rights.
up 50-something worldly-wise black ex-cop with young, intense
white ex-cop in a gritty urban sprawl chewed up from the
inside by drugs, guns and racism. The setting is noir, the
backdrop is gun-metal sky, add seventies-soul cum Magnificent
Seven soundtrack and you’re right as rain.
seems to have made a living out of viscerating Washington
D.C. – the crime capital of the United States –
for its noir content, and his ninth novel is more junkie
fare for his fans. Ex-policeman Derek Strange, who runs
his own private eye agency (complete with clownish sidekick
and devoted Girl Friday-cum-occasional girlfriend) is roped
in to clear the name of a young black off-duty officer,
shot by a fellow white cop. He ends up befriending his quarry,
one Terry Quinn – a wound-up cross between Russell
Crowe and Brad Pitt – and as they chase the case,
wind up on a one-way road into the dark innards of the city’s
prose is masculine, spare, no-shit screenplay from start
to finish – replete with the requisite scenes of blood
and brutal sex. In one episode, a white trash drug mule
drops a two-hundred pound barbell on the throat of a fellow
drug associate; in another, lead man Quinn hammers a criminal
grunt with a meat tenderising mallet. Pelecanos is as keen
to show off Washington’s screwed up insides - juxtaposed
with hallucinations of rabbit-hole suburban yuppie existence
from Starbucks to Lexuses – as he is to display his
extensive knowledge of D.C.’s streets, cowboy movies,
and black music.
writing is powered by an intense and permeating racism,
which soaks in everything from the characterisation to the
restaurant food. The author’s handling of the novel’s
explicit racial tension, if not exactly clumsy, is unapologetic
in-your-face, at times, even preachy in its belligerence.
Just getting along, is hopelessly naïve, sissy, uncool,
and dangerously stupid.
as Rain is a guy novel at heart – Strange and
Quinn’s friendship treads the racial tight-rope but
its their mutual masculinity – cop fraternity, their
mutual instinct for the hunt, and inability to commit to
relationships. Even the women in the novel – the ones
which are not clearly earmarked victims - serve mainly to
show up the tormented psyches of their men.
grimy street-noir crime fiction turns you on, Right
as Rain might just be your kind of fix. Or wait for
the movie to hit the theatres.