Cover image for Hell to pay
Hell to pay
Pelecanos, George P.
Personal Author:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
Waterville, Me. : Thorndike Press, 2003.

Physical Description:
504 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Large Print - Floating collection Floating Collection - Large Print

On Order



Private investigators Derek Strange and Terry Quinn ("Right As Rain") are hired to find a 14-year-old suburban runaway who's working as a prostitute. But nothing prepares these former D.C. cops for the pimp whose territory they're intruding upon.

Author Notes

George P. Pelecanos was born in Washington, D.C. on February 18, 1957. Before becoming an author, he worked as a line cook, dishwasher, bartender, and woman's shoe salesman. His first novel, A Firing Offense, was published in 1992. His other books include Nick's Trip, Shoedog, King Suckerman, Right as Rain, Hard Revolution, Drama City, The Night Gardener, and What It Was. He has received numerous awards including the Raymond Chandler award in Italy, the Falcon award in Japan, and the Grand Prix Du Roman Noir in France. Hell to Pay and Soul Circus were awarded the 2003 and 2004 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes.

He has served as producer on the feature films Caught (1996), Whatever (1998) and BlackMale (1999). He was a producer, writer, and story editor for the HBO series, The Wire, which won the Peabody Award and the AFI Award. He was also a writer and co-producer on the HBO World War II miniseries The Pacific and an executive producer and writer on the HBO series Treme.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Following last year's superb Right as Rain [BKL D 15 00], Pelecanos continues his new Derek Strange-Terry Quinn series with another gripping exploration of life on Washington, D.C.'s inner-city streets. Building on the friendship formed in the earlier book, Quinn is now working part-time for Strange's detective agency and helping him coach a Pewee League football team. When one of the players is murdered in a drive-by shooting, Strange looks for the killer, driven by personal as well as professional motives. Similarly, Quinn helps a client reclaim a teenager from the streets, only to find himself in a personal vendetta with her pimp, who speciazlies in "turning out" underage runaways. Juggling subplots and supporting characters with remarkable dexterity, Pelecanos moves from rich and surprisingly sympathetic portraits of the drive-by shooters to multifaceted depictions of Strange's and Quinn's romantic relationships. It was Pelecanos' graphic hard-boiled style and unflinching noir sensibility that established his cult reputation, but as his work matures, it becomes increasingly clear that the range of his talent is far greater than that characterization implies. His grasp of the subtleties of human relationships is the equal of the best nongenre writers, and his ability to build characters of substance and complexity is equally impressive. And, most visibly in this series, he writes about race--as in the relationship between African American Strange and Irish Catholic Quinn--with both sensitivity and courage. Pelecanos is clearly working at the top of his game, and his novels belong in the hands of anyone who cares about contemporary realistic fiction. --Bill Ott

Publisher's Weekly Review

You know you're in Pelecanos country when the music begins early a trio of street thugs on their way to a dogfight listen to "the new DMX joint on PGC, turned up loud" and continues to throb all the way through this second book in the author's hardboiled and heartbreaking series centered around Washington, D.C., private detective Derek Strange. A black man in his 50s, Strange first notices these particular thugs when they hang out around a Pee Wee football team he is coaching. Their appearance comes to seem more sinister in retrospect, when Strange's nine-year-old star quarterback is shot and killed at an ice cream stand. While Strange hunts for the men who shot the boy, his partner, Terry Quinn, an Irish Catholic ex-cop, gets pulled into an attempt to save a young runaway turned prostitute from a big-time pimp and falls for one of the tough women organizing the rescue. Meanwhile, Strange goes through a rocky period with his longtime lover (and secretary) Janine, forced to consider what his massage-parlor habit is doing to their relationship. The novel's turf the nontourist parts of Washington, D.C., neighborhoods where so many young black children die that selling T-shirts with their pictures on them at their wakes and funerals has become a cottage industry was staked out successfully in Pelecanos's earlier books about the sons and grandsons of Greek immigrants and now is extended to focus chiefly on the District's black majority. It is Pelecanos's intimate understanding of this volatile D.C. and the complexity of Strange a rich, sometimes frustrating but always warmly human character that should keep this series fresh for a long time to come. (Feb. 19) Forecast: Little, Brown is betting $100,000 in marketing dollars (not to mention a 20-city author tour) that this will be the book that propels cult favorite Pelecanos onto the bestseller lists and they may be right. Few writers deserve a boost as much as the hardworking, fearlessly gritty and engagingly idiosyncratic Pelecanos. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Having debuted in Right as Rain, the interracial private investigator team of Derek Strange and Terry Quinn here returns to the mean streets of Washington, DC. African American Strange, the older and wiser or at least more experienced of the duo, is initially contacted by some police officers who want him and Quinn to find a teen runaway working as a prostitute. They accept the job, while Strange simultaneously examines the background of the flashy fiance of a friend's daughter. Also a coach at an after-school football league, Strange finds that his investigations impact his team, and he is made painfully aware of the precarious lives of DC's black youth, too often victims of sudden violence. As always, Pelecanos handles the infrequent bouts of brutal action expertly, but the heart of the book resides in the conversations about music, race, and life that occur in the local streets, restaurants, and bars. Pelecanos's growing body of fans won't be disappointed, and Hell To Pay just might attract new readers who enjoy gritty urban tales of the type featured on the late, lamented TV series Homicide. For all larger public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/01.] Bob Lunn, Kansas City P.L., MO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.