Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher: Little Brown / TimeWarner
Release Date: March, 2003
ISBN: 0316608432
Format Reviewed: Hardcover
Buy it at Amazon
Genre: Crime Fiction / Thriller
Reviewed: 2003
Reviewer: Susan McBride

Reviewer Notes: Explicit violence and language.

Reviewer Susan McBride is the author of And Then She Was Gone, Overkill the Debutante Dropout mystery series,The Debs, The Debs: Love, Lies and Texas Dips, The Cougar Club, Little Black Dress

Soul Circus
Derek Strange Series, No 3
By George P. Pelecanos 

Soul Circus is the eleventh crime novel by George Pelecanos, but just the second I've read. My introduction to the author was in Hell to Pay, his previous book. After I'd finished that one, I wasn't sure I wanted to read another. There was something so unsettling about the story he told; the characters, in particular, disturbed me. There didn't seem to be a shining light in the bunch. When I look back now, I realize that Pelecanos had done his job so thoroughly that the troubling lives of the people in his book had affected me like few novels do. Soul Circus treads on the same turf in Washington, D.C., down in the trenches, where the drug dealers and their posses rule and victims are plenty.

Derek Strange, ex-cop turned PI, has married his longtime girlfriend, Janice, and has moved in with her and her son Lionel. He's taken on work for the defense team of a notorious drug dealer named Granville Oliver, who's about to go on trial for murder. Strange needs to dig up some doubt that Granville murdered his own uncle in order to help the man avoid the death penalty. Despite what appears to be an impossible task, Strange manages to find a lead: a woman named Devra Stokes, who used to date Granville's rival and might have some info that points the finger at the other man.

In the midst of his work for Granville's defense team, Strange and his partner, Terry Quinn, are hired by an odd-looking dude named Mario Durham to track down his old girlfriend. They do it in a pinch, and soon find out the woman was murdered. Their guilt over leading her killer right to her doorstep sparks a fire in Strange and Quinn, and they go after Mario to make things right, only to find themselves once again entangled in a world of gangsters, drugs and guns where there's little--if any--respect for human life.

One of the characters in Soul Circus talks about being told by a "Muslim dude" that "it was like we were in some kind of circus down here--and we were in the ring, performing like the white man expects us to. One big ring of souls, killin' each other while Mr. Charlie claps."

With chillingly stark prose and beautifully drawn characterizations,
Pelecanos takes readers to front row seats at this "soul circus," and it's often hard to watch. You may flinch now and then, but you can't avert your eyes.

Reviews of other titles in this series.

Hell to Pay, No 2 [Book]
Soul Circus, No 3 [Book]
Hard Revolution, No 4 [Audio] [Book]

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