Saturday, September 7, 2013

Shame the Devil

by George Pelecanos
299 pgs

Shame the Devil is the last of the four books that make up George Pelacanos's D.C. Quartet books. It picks up a few years after The Sweet Forever and begins with a robbery of a pizza joint. The robbery doesn't go off as planned and one of the robbers is killed, but not before they end up killing the employees, shooting a cop, and speeding off. To make the crime even more violent and tragic, they end up running over  and killing a small boy crossing the street as they make their getaway and seemingly disappear from the face of the earth. That boy, young Jimmy Karras, is the son of Demitri Karras, a central character in the series and a man who had just recently gotten his life back in order and found the happiness that comes from having a family.

The book skips forward three years and Demitri has separated from his wife and is still grieving for the loss of his son. The crime that took his son was never solved and Demitri is once again going through life without purpose or direction. It's not until Nick Stephanos contacts him about working at a neighborhood diner that Demitri's life finally starts to have some structure and contentment again.

The  men who pulled off the robbery of the pizza joint have been living on the other side of the country and are planning to return to the District to exact revenge for the death of the man who was killed. They have no idea that the father of the boy they hit has been hoping for the day he'd be able to exact his revenge as well.

Pelecanos is such a fantastic author. He does for D.C. what Dennis Lehane does for Boston, and the District itself is central to his storytelling. It's not requisite that you read the books in this quartet in order, but the payoff at the end, if you do, is great. Pelecanos ties each of the stories together and shows just how big the story he set out to tell actually was.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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