by Bruce TierneyApril, 2005
Drama in the District
George Pelecanos' latest novel, Drama City, is the story of parolee Lorenzo Brown, a one-time drug dealer trying his best to follow the straight-and-narrow. After eight years in prison, Lorenzo has returned to his old Washington, D.C., neighborhood and has found a job with the Humane Society, policing animal abusers and removing mistreated pets from dangerous situations. On every corner, he sees younger versions of himself, teenagers working their way up in the drug organizations of two rival crime lords, Nigel Johnson and Deacon Taylor. Once a week, Lorenzo must report to his parole officer, Rachel Lopez, an attractive Hispanic woman with a secret after-hours life. In very short order, these people's lives will be inextricably interwoven: one will be attacked and left for dead, one will die, one will have to decide where loyalties lie and one will walk away with all the marbles. Pelecanos' characters are believably flawed, yet at times they can display the sort of nobility that can blindside the unprepared. His eye for nuance and milieu and his ear for street slang are unparalleled in the genre. With Drama City, Pelecanos has crafted another complex and intelligently written addition to his D.C. series, a page-turner of the first order.