by Bruce TierneyFebruary, 2004
Mystery of the month
Choosing the recipient of the Tip of the Ice Pick Award was exceptionally difficult this month, but after lengthy deliberation, the results are in (the envelope, please). And the winner is: George Pelecanos, for Hard Revolution. For the past several years, George Pelecanos has chronicled the adventures of black D.C. private investigator Derek Strange (Soul Circus, Hell to Pay). Hard Revolution fills us in on Strange's back story his coming of age in the early 1960s and his experiences as a police officer during the riots following the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Derek Strange is the younger of two brothers; his older brother Dennis is a Vietnam veteran and habitual drug user, jobless and at loose ends. Dennis spends most of his time in the company of Alvin Jones, a petty criminal with a murderous mean streak. Derek is the example Dennis can never live up to, the pride of the family. Life is not all sweetness and light for Derek Strange, either, as his old friends from the neighborhood accuse him of selling out to "the Man" and his new co-workers on the police force are less than overjoyed about the growing black presence in the department. Derek Strange's story is, in many ways, a microcosm of the issue of race relations in tumultuous times. Fast paced, complex and superbly researched, Hard Revolution plants the reader in the middle of a population run amok, where the major difference between the criminals and the cops is possession of a badge.