What It Was by George Pelecanos

87%

15 Critic Reviews

It’s vintage Pelecanos, a master at the top of his game...
-Washington Times

Synopsis

Washington, D.C., 1972. Derek Strange has left the police department and set up shop as a private investigator. His former partner, Frank "Hound Dog" Vaughn, is still on the force. When a young woman comes to Strange asking for his help recovering a cheap ring she claims has sentimental value, the case leads him onto Vaughn's turf, where a local drug addict's been murdered, shot point-blank in his apartment. Soon both men are on the trail of a ruthless killer: Red Fury, so called for his looks and the car his girlfriend drives, but a name that fits his personality all too well. Red Fury doesn't have a retirement plan, as Vaughn points out - he doesn't care who he has to cross, or kill, to get what he wants. As the violence escalates and the stakes get higher, Strange and Vaughn know the only way to catch their man is to do it their own way.

Rich with details of place and time - the cars, the music, the clothes - and fueled by non-stop action, this is Pelecanos writing in the hard-boiled noir style that won him his earliest fans and placed him firmly in the ranks of the top crime writers in America.
 

About George Pelecanos

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George Pelecanos is the author of several highly praised and bestselling novels, including The Cut, What It Was, The Way Home, The Turnaround, and The Night Gardener. He is also an independent-film producer, an essayist, and the recipient of numerous international writing awards. He was a producer and Emmy-nominated writer for The Wire and currently writes for the acclaimed HBO series Treme. He lives in Maryland.
 
Published January 23, 2012 by Reagan Arthur Books. 252 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, History, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Crime. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Feb 12 2012
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for What It Was
All: 15 | Positive: 14 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Good
on Feb 10 2012

Pelecanos is crazy for details, so all these particular...add to the big picture he’s continually drawing of crucial moments in America’s changing history, as viewed from the streets.

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NY Times

Good
on Jan 22 2012

“What It Was” is a sleek, fast-paced crime tale that doesn’t hit the usual speed bumps found in Derek Strange’s path.

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Publishers Weekly

Good
on Feb 20 2012

...Pelecanos (The Cut) gives us the rich period detail—the cars, clothes, music, and attitude—of the 1970s.

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Blog Critics

Good
on Feb 20 2012

The music he mentions throughout his books is clearly the music of his life. And the stories he writes are the music of our lives.

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WSJ online

Above average
on Jan 28 2012

Mr. Pelecanos is terrific at re-creating the early-1970s period...

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Examiner

Excellent
on Feb 27 2012

...Pelecanos’ keen focus on seemingly superfluous details... all help add to the appeal of his works. Another great read from one of the most reliable in the genre.

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Book Reporter

Excellent
on Mar 08 2012

It may ostensibly be a work of fiction, but truer stuff was never written.

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Washington Times

Good
on May 18 2012

It’s vintage Pelecanos, a master at the top of his game...

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USA Today

Excellent
on Feb 02 2012

...climb into the Fury, turn on the radio, and buckle up for one thrilling ride.

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Express

Above average
on Feb 19 2012

The details may grate on crime fiction fans who prefer their action straight up...

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Denver Post

Above average
on Feb 15 2012

For those who care about the soul music, muscle cars and bizarre clothing of the early 1970s, he recalls them in copious detail.

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We Love This Book

Excellent
on Sep 02 2012

This is as good as anybody has a right to expect from up-to-the minute, exhilarating crime fiction...

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Spinetingler Magazine

Excellent
on Feb 11 2012

Written with the usual vernacular and tight prose as displayed in the previous novels in the series, the graphic details of the characters are mesmerizing.

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Crime Fiction Lover

Excellent
on Feb 12 2012

It’s not a secret that the best advice for would-be writers is to read a lot of books. My advice to them is to read a lot of books by George Pelecanos – for the characters, for their motivations as well as for the specific traits that define and differentiate them. The dialogue never feels forced...

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Washingtonian

Excellent
on Feb 27 2012

...a novel that reads like a hot rod running red lights, weed smoke and Funkadelic pouring through the windows.

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Reader Rating for What It Was
66%

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