George Peleconos, King Suckerman


George Pelecanos is an American crime writer with tough heroes. He excels at depicting the sticky urban landscape of Washington D.C., and is now in the front rank.

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James Sallis remarks in his appreciation to this volume that George Pelecanos is among the finest ten or twelve novelists working in the US today. Pelecanos is a rare thing – a unique writer that works as a crime writer. He writes books that push against the conventions of the genre; that describe the alienation of the urban landscape with an intense alacrity; he uses the private eye form to expose racial issues, and then if that is not enough he dissembles the socio-ethnic concerns of decades in his books. King Suckerman is part of the D.C. Quartet, a group of books that transformed him from a little known, but critically acclaimed crime writer to a seminal writer of a string of hard-hitting noir novels.

Plotline from the author’s website: “The time is 1976. Captain Beefheart’s on the eight-track. The hot new superfly flick King Suckerman is coming to neighbourhood theatres. And Washington, D.C., is a hotbed of drugs and racial tension—an easy place to turn a wrong corner and land in a whole lot of trouble.
That’s what happens to Marcus Clay and Dimitri Karras when they cross paths with an ex-con and his gang of natural born killers. Walking into a drug deal gone south, Clay and Karras end up with a pile of money that isn’t theirs…the sexy teenage girlfriend of the Italian dealer … and major trouble. The ex-con is soon spilling blood to get to the cash. The dealer is scheming to get his girl back. And two knockaround guys named Clay and Karras are reaching a pivotal moment – the time to take a stand, go straight, and get justice. Or maybe just sweet revenge.
In this sizzling thriller, George Pelecanos writes with a firecracker in his prose, shooting sparks on every page and earning his place among the stars of crime fiction”.

Jim Sallis, critic, biographer and noted crime writer, provides insights into Pelecanos the author in his appreciation. King Suckerman was issued in an ordinary edition of 85 numbered and signed copies, and a further 15 deluxe lettered were produced for private distribution.

5.00 out of 5

3 reviews for George Peleconos, King Suckerman

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rating by on May 5, 2012 :

    This blaxploitation homage should, if there’s any justice in the world, prove to be a breakout book for George Pelecanos. He’s produced a funky thriller that is so cinematic that it even seems to have a soundtrack.
    In the days leading up to the Bicentennial celebration in Washington, DC, record store owner Marcus Clay and his small-time dealer friend and playground hoops partner, Dmitri Karras, run afoul of ex-con Wilton Cooper and his bizarre gang, including B.R. Claggett, a “white-boy-wanna-be-black-boy cracker.” While Clay and Karras try to figure out how to put things right and Cooper and his thugs go on a crime spree, the entire town is trying to get to a Theatre to see the new movie “King Suckerman”, starring Ron St. John–The Man with the Master Plan who be Taken it to the Man. All the while, Curtis Mayfield, the Hues Corporation, Jimi Hendrix, etc. thunder away in the background and TV’s are tuned to Kojak, Harry-O, & Streets of San Francisco.
    The recent 70’s revival has produced an awful lot of dreck, but this one book just might make up for all of it”.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rating by on May 5, 2012 :

    “In King Suckerman, the black Marcus Clay and Greek Dimitri Karras are living out their 20s in that largely stress-free, good-times agenda supported by record-store gigs and small-time pot transactions, before real life or serious trouble comes calling. The latter is stumbled upon in King Suckerman (they accidentally run afoul of a murderous drug dealer); the former is somewhat of a backdrop in The Sweet Forever and Shame The Devil. Pelecanos’ confident, engrossing treatment of the “amateur detective” crime-fiction sub-genre is part of what makes these books so appealing. Clay and Karras fall victim to curiosity, nerve, tenacity and, later, personal crusades while trying to live life like normal guys. This is good when (licensed) detective crime fiction can be a little jarring for newbies unwilling or unable to suspend enough disbelief so the logic of “He’d be arrested or dead by this point!” doesn’t prohibit the enjoyment.
    At the risk of never living down this statement, King Suckerman made me aware of how I carried myself. Literally speaking, it made me want to walk differently. These characters exude balls and moxie as much as they do conflict and bad decisions. To pull this off without an overwhelming silliness or masculinity is no small miracle within Pelecanos’ chosen genre. In each book, the outcomes are never 100-percent positive. In many ways, these stories end at uglier places and certainly with more long-term nastiness than the succession of wrong turns that brought the stories to that point. Which brings me to the violence.
    Eight years after reading the book, I still think about a certain car-accident scene in King Suckerman. Pelecanos writes violence like no other. He avoids gratuitous splatter; the mind-shattering pain is palpable and very ugly. Understated and disturbing, the violence in these books is a fact of life rather than a focal point or distraction. My implication is not that these are unrelenting bloodbaths clinging tenuously to a storyline. It’s the other way around”. Extract from the review on published 17 March, 2009

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rating by James Sallis on May 7, 2012 :

    From the Appreciation of George Pelecanos by Jamas Sallis.

    “Do I write about the Pelecanos who started off playing such games with conventions of the detective genre wearing them inside out, sleeves ripped off, shoes for hats? Or the one who wrote a lean, classically noir book just to see if he could do it? About the dedicated chronicler of inner-city Washington, DC? The Balzacian figure so intent upon rendering this nation’s whole ramshackle, impossible life over the past half-century? For it is work, my friends, and a rare dedication to same, as Pelecanos continues, with each canvas going after what eluded him, what he may have missed the last time, chipping away from the block whatever’s not part of the sculpture, telling his tales of life’s losers, the damaged and disadvantaged. Those unfortunates shut away in rented rooms and in bars, hotels or diners reeking of stagnant time till their moment comes round at last and they erupt, burn furiously for a moment, and expire. Ever true to self and material, Pelecanos affords us a rare example of integrity. Leaning over, listening closely through the ever-increasing din of daily life and the clamouring distractions of commercialism, he’s burrowed in and found the direction of his work in the work itself, letting it grow organically, following where it takes him, with never a false step. He’s become both the fox that knows many things and the hedgehog that knows one thing deeply. He’s the real thing, a powerful and intensely original writer who calls his own tunes and makes us all, bears and people and, yes, sometimes the stars alike, dance”.

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