Crime writer, turned TV/movie producer George Pelecanos travels a path he knows all too well in this latest collection of stories and that should be quite fine with readers. With nearly 20 novels to his name, the short story format (and one novella) is a new one for Pelecanos, but his writing is just as effective with the shorter restrictions he’s given here.
Like those in his other books, most of his characters here are growing up in the D.C./Maryland area, surrounded by crime, and though not necessarily all are obvious protagonists, you can’t help but root for them. One of the few exceptions is a story of a middle class couple who adopt three children and raise them alongside their biological child only to see most of them drift away or get lost in a world of drugs. It is unlike many of the crime-heavy pieces the author is associated with, but he proves his knack for writing great characters is not strictly limited one genre.
The eponymous novella, probably the most absorbing in the book (which is saying a lot considering there are no weak stories in this collection), focuses on a street smart producer working on location on a cop TV series in an unnamed Southern city. The producer takes it upon himself to solve the murder of a local crew member and friend. Given Pelecanos second career as a writer and eventual producer on shows like The Wire and Treme, the story is given added reality.
If you have yet to read any of his books, The Martini Shot is the perfect intro to one of contemporary fictions most consistently enjoyable crime writers.
The Martini Shot: A Novella and Stories by George Pelecanos/Hardcover, 304 pages/Little Brown and Company/2015