Street lyricism in Chocolate City — 6 years ago
“He was as American as folding money and war.”
The ear for dialog remains uncanny, the eye for the minutiae of cop life at once and the intricacies of the urban criminal continues to astound. Pelecanos creates these urban soundscapes and morality plays throwing in just enough ambiguity to trouble the reader’s soul. And troubled souls are what Washington DC features. The cast of characters are each vividly rendered, he has a knack for empathy even for the most unsympathetic of characters. It is all shades of grey. We’re all struggling in this land of imperfection.
Part procedural, part Balzac or even Dickens and always gripping. I suppose Richard Price can be as taut on occasion but I can’t think of anyone who is as consistently good. Indeed he’s spilling out of the boundaries of the crime novel or the police thriller, this is the urban drama verging on the most lyrical opera – although in typical Pelecanos fashion, the soundtrack would probably be The O’Jays or say Frankie Lymon. Street lyricism in Chocolate City.