Friday, 6 June 2014

The Way Home, by George Pelecanos

1 star

I was led to buy this book by the little tag above the author's name, telling me it was 'by one of the award winning writers of The Wire'. Sadly, The Way Home did not live up to the standard this suggests. The Wire was compelling and essential viewing, peopled by characters that all felt real to me:

The Way Home is pedestrian storytelling peopled by characters that could have been interesting if given a chance, only for Pelecanos to decide not to show any growth or change but simply tell us about it instead, usually in one short line.

The story of Chris Flynn, from attitude-filled teenage criminal to straightened-out adult, 'struggling' with temptation when coming across a bag filled with money and apparently led into 'a deadly game of cat and mouse', the dispassionate writing style at first seemed to fit this particular type of book rather well. However, as the book progressed I found that instead it felt like I was being read to in the most boringly monotone voice I could imagine, which only highlighted how little I cared about what was happening.

This, combined with the 'tell, don't show' mode of writing employed, served to remove all dramatic tension and left me scratching my head a little about the 'struggle' Chris apparently went through (which was dealt with in a line) and the 'deadly game of cat and mouse' which only really came up in the last stretch of the story and barely involved Chris, climaxing without him.

As this was so far below the standard I expected when picking it up, I can only assume that The Way Home is not one of the best works from George Pelecanos. However, I won't be bothering to pick up any more to find out.

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