Quick Book Review: The Turnaround by George Pelecanos

The Turnaround by George PelecanosLooking back on this, it was a better book than I thought when I was reading it. I expected to be reading a thriller, and that wasn’t quite true. There was an element of mystery but really it was a story about how a mistake made as teenagers affected 6 people for the rest of their lives. And in that sense, it was quite a good read, although there were some quiet moments, so quiet that I was getting bored.

In 1972 three white teenagers drive through a black area of Washington DC and shout some verbal abuse at three black teenagers while also throwing some food at them. When they find that they have driven into a dead-end street, they turn around and find the black teenagers blocking the road. Having had too much abuse recently, one of the blacks reaches for his gun and kills one of the white guys.

Many years later, we meet the black men again: one wants to meet with the white men for reasons of closure, but one of the other two is looking for money and wants to blackmail them. While one of the white men and one of the black are getting friendly with each other, the other black man threatens the white one.

The book discusses themes such as family and father and son relationships, revenge and racial issues.

I read this book for the Around the USA in 90 Days challenge and would not have picked it up otherwise. But as it turned out Pelecanos is quite well known, and for that reason, it was nice to have tried one of his books. I probably will read more of Pelecanos if I come across a book of his that appeals.

Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars

Number of pages: 310 (Dutch translation: Geen weg terug)

First published: 2008

I got this book: from the library

Genre: contemporary fiction, mystery

Have you heard of this writer?


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at bookhelpline.com. In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

6 Responses to Quick Book Review: The Turnaround by George Pelecanos

  1. parrish lantern says:

    Have read a few Pelecananos & have for most part enjoyed them, he’s good with his characters & the world they inhabit, background detail etc.

    • Leeswammes says:

      That’s right, Gary. I expected a different kind of book, but I think he was very good at describing the psychological (and other) consequences of the events in the men’s youths.

  2. Nadine Nys says:

    This story reminds partly of The Bonfire of the Vanities, the book by Tom Wolfe (and movie based on the book with Michael Douglas). I haven’t read anything by Pelecanos yet, I don’t think he is really popular here.

    • Leeswammes says:

      I haven’t read *The Bonfire of the Vanities* nor seen the movie, Nadine. I know it’s a classic and I really should. Especially if it compares to this book. Our library has quite a few books by Pelecanos – amazing that I never heard of him!

  3. Marie says:

    I am yet to read one of George Pelecanos’ books (I have a couple on the TBR but can’t for the life of me remember the names of them!) but The Wire is an absolutely superb TV show. I don’t generally watch much television but would highly recommend this, it is paced slowly and plenty of time is spent on character development so I imagine his books would also be excellent.


    • Leeswammes says:

      Marie, I don’t know The Wire. Either we don’t have it here in the Netherlands or I never thought to watch it. I’ll keep an eye on the TV guide, thanks.

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