“The finer points don’t matter to her. All those theories you read about, whether or not I was doing my job, or if I made a bad split-second decision, or if it was the lack of training, or the Glock…none of that matters to her and I can understand it. She looks at me, the only thing she sees is the guy who killed her son.”
Right As Rain was given to me by a good friend of mine. It’s a mystery-thriller, a genre that I would have never chosen for myself. My friend told me that the story was set here in D.C. and since I am a daughter of The Capital City, I decided to give it a go. I am so glad that I did. With Right As Rain, George Pelecanos has offered an intriguing and authentic tale of police corruption, race relations and the drug trade in Washington, D.C.
Right As Rain centers around Derek Strange, a DC cop turned private investigator who has been hired by the mother of Chris Wilson, a young black police officer who was killed while out of uniform by Terry Quinn, a fellow officer who is white with a well known short fuse. Mrs. Wilson believes that her son has been dishonored and wants his name cleared. Strange reluctantly takes on the case and quickly enlists the help of Chris’ killer, Quinn, to help him get to the bottom of the case.
Derek Strange is a smooth and intelligent man and is very good at what he does. He understands the realities of the city and how things work and why. He sees everything clearly except for his on-again, off-again love relationship with Janine who is his office administrator. Terry Quinn has struggled with his personal demons surrounding how he perceives race ever since the shooting. It especially affects his attempt at a relationship with a young law student named Juana, a black woman with whom he is absolutely smitten.
These characters are so believable and I was able to sympathize with them right away. My favorite character was Terry Quinn. I was surprised that I was able to have so much sympathy for this man that killed a black man on a dark street basically just because he was black. His demons were so real and his struggle with them was significant to the story.
Strange and Quinn uncovered more than they ever thought they would in investigating why Chris Wilson was killed. Who would have thought that a cop murder in downtown D.C. would lead to the slaughter of Columbian drug mules in the exurbs, dirty cops and one good girl gone terribly bad thanks to a heroin addiction? The story took so many twists and turns, I never knew what was coming next, but with every turn of the page I wanted to know more. This was one of those books that you end up staying up way past your bedtime because you just can’t put it down!
What impressed me the most about Right As Rain was how authentically “D.C.” it was. Many movies and books have been made and written about the Nation’s Capital and very few of them stay true to the spirit of this town. They’re usually about “Washington”- the monuments, museums and federal government. This story was about D.C. as I know it: Brookland, Georgia Avenue, Union Station, North Capitol Street, The Metro’s Red Line and Crisfield’s in Silver Spring. My own neighborhood and street was even mentioned a few times. I was able to picture every location mentioned which made it all even more exciting for me.
This is a great book. It lived up to everything I’ve been told about George Pelecanos and I look forward to reading more from this author.