Best Mystery I’ve Read All Year
Right As Rain by George Pelecanos (2001)
George Pelecanos is simply a genius! Most readers, outside of D.C., have never heard of Pelecanos; those who have probably know him as one of the writers of the highly acclaimed television series, The Wire. As Michael Connelly’s blurb on the cover states: “Those in the know read Pelecanos.” For years, critics, such as Patrick Anderson of the Washington Post, have heralded him as one of today’s top crime masters. Right as Rain is the first in his four-book series featuring D.C. private eye Derek Strange.
After watching all five seasons of The Wire before reading Right as Rain, I couldn’t help but cast Clarke Peter (who plays Det. Lester Freamon) in the role of Derek Strange. I heard his voice every time Strange spoke, which brought the novel to life. Part Batman, Sherlock Holmes, and a sheriff of the Old West, Derek Strange’s street-wise and methodical nature serves him well as a successful D.C. investigator. Nonetheless, Right as Rain is as much about down-and-out ex-cop Terry Quinn as it is about Derek Strange. The two team up when Strange is hired to investigate a police shooting in which Quinn played a major role. Even after Quinn leaves the police force, he still searches for answers and the hope for redemption.
Pelecanos is a master of dialogue. Every line rings with authenticity and carefully nuanced characterization. He writes unforgettable scenes and tightly written chapters focused on morality and the conflict that arises from violence on the mean streets of D.C. Right as Rain is the perfect marriage of character and plot. It’s a novel that makes you think while you’re reading it and long after you finish it.