George Pelecanos Books

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George Pelecanos is American author of detective fiction novels set in Washington D.C. Additionally; he is also a television writer and producer and worked as a writer on Treme and HBO series The Wire. He was born on 18th February 1957 in Washington D.C.

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Order of Nick Stefanos Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 A Firing Offense 1992 Description / Buy
2 Nick's Trip 1993 Description / Buy
3 Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go 1995 Description / Buy

Order of D.C. Quartet Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 The Big Blowdown 1996 Description / Buy
2 King Suckerman 1997 Description / Buy
3 The Sweet Forever 1998 Description / Buy
4 Shame the Devil 2000 Description / Buy

Order of Derek Strange & Terry Quinn Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 Right as Rain 2001 Description / Buy
2 Hell to Pay 2002 Description / Buy
3 Soul Circus 2003 Description / Buy
4 Hard Revolution 2004 Description / Buy
5 What It Was 2012 Description / Buy

Order of Spero Lucas Series

# Read Title Published Details
1 The Cut 2011 Description / Buy
2 The Double 2013 Description / Buy

Order of George Pelecanos Standalone Novels

# Read Title Published Details
1 Shoedog 1994 Description / Buy
2 Drama City 2005 Description / Buy
3 The Night Gardener 2006 Description / Buy
4 The Turnaround 2008 Description / Buy
5 The Way Home 2009 Description / Buy
6 The Man Who Came Uptown 2018 Description / Buy

Order of George Pelecanos Short Stories/Novellas

# Read Title Published Details
1 The Dead Their Eyes Implore Us (Short Story) 2014 Description / Buy

Order of George Pelecanos Short Story Collections

# Read Title Published Details
1 The Martini Shot 2015 Description / Buy
2 Owning Up 2024 Description / Buy

George Pelecanos Anthologies

# Read Title Published Details
1 Measures of Poison 2002 Description / Buy
2 D.C. Noir 2005 Description / Buy
3 D.C. Noir 2 2008 Description / Buy
4 The Best American Mystery Stories 2008 2008 Description / Buy
5 USA Noir 2013 Description / Buy
6 The Highway Kind 2016 Description / Buy
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Pelecanos first novels were written in first person perspective of Nick Stefano’s, a Greek D.C. resident and a part-time private investigator. After his first four first person narrated novels (Shoedog, A Firing Offense, Down by the River Where Dead Men Go, and Nick’s Trip), George Pelecanos changed his narrative styling and also expanded the scope of his writing. After switching to third person perspective, the author relegated the lead/narrator of his first four books into a supporting character and went ahead to introduce Marcus Clay and Dimitri Karras.

The Big Blowdown was published in 1950’s before Clay and Karras’s characters were introduced. The book follows the lives of people in Washington D.C. tracking down the changes and challenges the 2nd half of the 20th century presented. The fans favorite, King Suckerman published in 1970’s typically uses the sport as a symbol of corporation amongst races thus suggesting that the dynamism of the D.C. people is as a result of goodwill generated by multi-ethnic sports.

In 2001, the author brought in a new team of private investigators, Terry Quinn and Derek Strange who are the lead characters of Right as Rain. These protagonists have also featured in Hell to Pay and Soul Circus. Hard Revolution was published in 2004 and features Derek Strange during his life in the early days in the D.C. police force. Drama City and The Night Gardener were published in 2005 and 2006 respectively.


George Pelecanos novels have won and also been nominated for various awards. Drama City was a nominee for 2006 Edgar Allan Poe Award. On the other hand, Hell to Pay won the 2002 L.A Times Book Prize for best Mystery/Thriller book. The Turnaround won 2008 Hammett Award for the best category novel.

King Suckerman was listed in 1997 Publishers Weekly, and Booklist starred reviews. Shame the Devil was nominated for 2000 L.A Times Book Prize under best mystery novel category.


These are two best books by George Pelecanos, The Big Blowdown (1996) and Hell to Pay (2002).

The Big Blowdown: It is the year 1946, and the easiest way for two local men, Joey Recevo and Pete Karras to find work after the Great War is to offer extra muscles for a local boss who operates a protection scheme with the mafia. The problem with Pete is that he is way too soft on the immigrants and the last thing that their boss wants is a soft man in his mob. Therefore the boys teach Pete a painful lesson that he won’t forget. Three years later, Joey and Pete meet once again, and a final confrontation puts their friendship to an ultimate test.

In this novel, the author George Pelecanos paints a clear picture of the life in DC, with the two vets, the two friends serve as the main character taking them from their teenage years to their thirties. The crime elements in The Big Blowdown are more pronounced than in the author’s previous Nick Stefano’s trilogy. Pete is a conflicted character, and he is not sure on how to act with his family or even his mistress. All in all, the plot development and characters, and character interaction are some of the aspects that you will love most about this book.

Hell to Pay: Hell to Pay is the in the darkest downtown Washington and begins with Strange and Quinn dealing with the normal scraps of the world violent city- a missing girl- now a hooker and a crooked cop and a senseless death on one sunny noon shake Strange’s existence. A fatal accidents strike next to home and a victim is shot by bullets intended for another.

Strange finds all the grief too consuming and vows to track down and finish the killers in a ghetto style. But as he digs investigates deeper and deeper he uncovers questions about himself and the world he lives in, questions that he would rather not ask anyone not even himself.

Hell to Pay is another addictive George Pelecanos novel that deepens the universe that the author created in Right as Rain. The author’s language is never simple or plain, it full of proper nouns and descriptive adjectives to ensure that each aspect presented in the novel is well explained.

When Does The Next George Pelecanos book come out?

George Pelecanos doesn't seem to have an upcoming book. Their newest book is Owning Up and was released on February, 6th 2024. It is the newest book in the George Pelecanos Short Story Collections.

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