Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Sweet Forever

by George Pelecanos

In The Sweet Forever George Pelecanos picks up the story of Marcus Clay and his best friend Dmitri Karras ten years after the events told of in King Suckerman. It's March of 1986 in Washington D.C. and March Madness is in full swing, with first team All-American Len Bias leading the University of Maryland team into the second round of the big dance. But the same thing that will end bias's life two days after the Boston Celtics draft him second overall in the upcoming NBA draft is causing a war on the streets of the District--cocaine.

Karras himself is quickly progressing from being a casual user of the drug to a habitual one, and works for Clay, helping him run his four record shops in various parts of D.C. One day both of them witness a deadly car accident which takes place right in front of one of the shops. They watch as a car being driven by a young drug runner for the area's supplier of cocaine crashes, decapitating the driver. What they don't see is what a bystander named Eddie Golden does immediately after the crash occurred. Eddie had driven his girlfriend into that part of the District to score a gram of cocaine and witnessed the crash as well. he was the first one to approach the burning vehicle to see if he could help anyone. When he gets there he sees the state of the driver but then notices a pillowcase full of cash in the backseat. He impulsively grabs it and flees the scene, unknowingly setting off a series of events that will lead to several deaths, force Karras to reassess his life, and drag Marcus Clay into a battle for the streets of the city he loves.

This is the third book in what's known as Pelecanos's D.C. quartet series, but the books are so loosely related to each other that reading them in order is unnecessary. As I have with each of his books that I've read, I enjoyed this one. The story is engrossing and even though many of the characters live a lifestyle that I would never want to be able to relate to, the characters are still multi-dimensional and relatable. And even though Pelecanos usually shows the less appealing side of the nation's capitol, it's obvious from the way he writes about it, that it's a city that he knows very well and is close to his heart.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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