George Pelecanos - Author

About the Author

George P. Pelecanos was born in Washington, DC in 1957. His first novel was published in 1992 and alongside his consequential success as an author, he has also worked as producer, writer and story editor for the acclaimed and award-winning US crime series, The Wire. His writing for the show earned him an Emmy nomination.


He is the author of fifteen crime novels set in and around Washington, DC. The Big Blowdown was the recipient of the International Crime Novel of the Year award in both Germany and Japan; King Suckerman was shortlisted for the Gold Dagger Award in the UK. His short fiction has appeared in Esquire and the collections Unusual Suspects and Best American Mystery Stories of 1997. He is an award-winning journalist and pop-culture essayist who has written for the Washington Post.


Pelecanos can also claim credit for involvement in the production of several feature films. Most recently, as a screenwriter for film, he has written an adaptation of King Suckerman for Dimension Films, and was co-writer on the Paid in Full.


Pelecanos lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife and three children.

Featured books by George Pelecanos

The Martini Shot and Other Stories

The Martini Shot and Other Stories

Author: George Pelecanos Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/01/2015

THE MARTINI SHOT itself is set in the world of TV, featuring a scriptwriter on a popular cop show. When a member of the crew is murdered, the screenwriter decides to track down the perpetrators himself, to see if as a writer he can do more than just talk the talk.

Other books by George Pelecanos

The Man Who Came Uptown

The Man Who Came Uptown

Author: George Pelecanos Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/09/2018

Anna Byrne is a jailhouse librarian. Most days, she loves her job and shares the life-affirming power of books to people who would have no hope without them. Often, she can get too close and forget some of these men are dangerous criminals. But some of them never had a chance. Like Michael Hudson, who's been locked up awaiting trial before his sudden release. He's happy and relieved but can't shake the question preying on his mind: how comes the witness who put him behind bars is suddenly refusing to testify? There's a man who might have the answer, but he wants something first. Phil Ornazian is a private investigator who moonlights as a petty criminal. He's not exactly proud of it, but times are hard in Washington D.C. People have to change to survive, or die trying. But everything comes at a price and, at some point, everyone has to pay...

The Man Who Came Uptown

The Man Who Came Uptown

Author: George Pelecanos Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/09/2018

Anna Byrne is a jailhouse librarian. Most days, she loves her job and shares the life-affirming power of books to people who would have no hope without them. Often, she can get too close and forget some of these men are dangerous criminals. But some of them never had a chance. Like Michael Hudson, who's been locked up awaiting trial before his sudden release. He's happy and relieved but can't shake the question preying on his mind: how comes the witness who put him behind bars is suddenly refusing to testify? There's a man who might have the answer, but he wants something first. Phil Ornazian is a private investigator who moonlights as a petty criminal. He's not exactly proud of it, but times are hard in Washington D.C. People have to change to survive, or die trying. But everything comes at a price and, at some point, everyone has to pay...

The Martini Shot and Other Stories

The Martini Shot and Other Stories

Author: George Pelecanos Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/01/2016

From the writer of the HBO series Treme and The Wire comes a brand new collection of short stories What really goes on beneath the surface of a city? There's the slum kid whose basketball skills earn him loyal friends and bitter rivals. The police informant grappling with his own sick conscience. A helpless young drug dealer watches as violence seeps into the lives of those who he cares about. And a writer on a TV cop show who finds drama and reality are colliding much too close to home. Corruption, revenge, honour, sacrifice and the fight to survive. Dark, fast-paced and crackling with energy, these stories expose the violence and darkness on the streets of any city. Gritty and hard-hitting, THE MARTINI SHOT is Pelecanos at his very best.

The Double

The Double

Author: George Pelecanos Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/07/2014

Every man has his dark side... Spero Lucas confronts his own in an explosive thriller from the writer of the award-winning THE WIRE. Spero Lucas is a young Iraq war vet now working as a PI in Washington DC. He's hired by a young woman to find a painting she lost after being scammed by a super-smooth con-artist. Spero tracks the painting down, but the con-artist is part of a team of ruthless thugs, and the woman who hired Spero is brutally attacked as a warning to stay away. The warning doesn't work. Spero is angry and he goes on the offensive, taking out the gang one by one. But where do Spero's remorseless killings sit on the morality scale? Is he defending an innocent woman? Or have his experiences of war turned him into a ruthless killer, no better than the crooks he's up against?

Nick's Trip

Nick's Trip

Author: George Pelecanos Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/11/2013

A stylish and gripping crime novel from one of the acclaimed writers of THE WIRE. Part-time PI Nick Stefanos doesn't tail wives anymore. But when a childhood friend steps into Nick's bar after 15 years and asks for help locating his wife April, he feels obliged to do some digging. After a visit to the small-time crime boss with whom April was supposedly having an affair, Nick realises there is far more to this story than a missing wife. There is missing money. Lots of it. And some very powerful enemies...

Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go

Down by the River Where the Dead Men Go

Author: George Pelecanos Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/11/2013

A gritty urban crime thriller from one of the award-winning writers of THE WIRE. Like most of the trouble in Nick Stefanos' life, it started with a drink. Lying in the darkness, drunk and immobile, Nick hears two men murder a terrified teenager. When he wakes in the morning, his memory is blurred. But the dead boy is still there, submerged in the river. The police presume it's a gang-killing - no shortage of them in DC. But Nick isn't sure; gangs don't use silencers. Hit men do. Despite not having worked a PI case for a year and a half, Nick starts investigating, driven by an obsessive need for the truth. And with each clue he unearths, he's driven further into the darkest corners of the human soul. The third novel in the Nick Stefanos series.

A Firing Offense

A Firing Offense

Author: George Pelecanos Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/11/2013

The first in the Nick Stefanos trilogy from one of the acclaimed writers of THE WIRE. Advertising director Nick Stefanos is well acquainted with the seedy side of the electronics business - blow-out sales and shady deals were his life on the shop floor. So when a stockboy disappears, it's not news. Just another metalhead off chasing a dream of big money and easy living. But the boy's grandfather asks Nick for help, and as Nick starts digging, he quickly uncovers a much darker and more violent truth. One that will lead him to the alcohol-soaked and drug-riddled underbelly of Washington DC.

What It Was

What It Was

Author: George Pelecanos Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/11/2012

The stunning crime thriller from one of the writers of THE WIRE. 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 fuelled 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.

Shoedog

Shoedog

Author: George Pelecanos Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/05/2010

Constantine is a drifter with a lot of miles behind him, a lot more ahead and plenty of jobs in between that never showed up on anyone's books. Back in his home town, he hitches a ride on a bright spring morning with a little man named Polk. There's one stop Polk needs to make, and it changes Constantine's life forever. Like the kind of cars they don't make anymore and the kind of songs they don't sing, Shoedog has the style, rhythm and muscle of a classic.

D.c. Noir 2

D.c. Noir 2

Author: George Pelecanos Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/09/2008

The Night Gardener

The Night Gardener

Author: George Pelecanos Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/08/2007

A great novel from one of America's finest literary crime writers... They never found the killer. All they knew, back in the winter of 1985, was that someone was taking teenagers, killing them and leaving their abused bodies in public parks. Three victims in all, with no link between them except a oddity of their names. They read the same back-to-front - Otto, Ava and lastly Eve. A lot has happened in the twenty years since. Detectives Gus Ramone and Dan Holiday - two of the leads on the case - have pursued very different paths. Gus has climbed to the heights of Detective Sergeant and built himself a reputation as a very good cop, whilst Dan has been drummed out of the force - his sleaze finally getting too much for his superiors. However, their paths are about to cross again. A boy named Asa - a close friend of Gus's teenage son - has been found in the public park, his skull shattered by gunfire. Now it seems that both men are once again in the path of this disturbed serial killer. THE NIGHT GARDENER is George Pelecanos's stunning crime thriller - the story of two very different men united by the maliciousness of a deadly attacker.

D.c. Noir

D.c. Noir

Author: George Pelecanos Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/02/2006

Hard Revolution

Hard Revolution

Author: George Pelecanos Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/01/2005

'This is a wonderful powerful novel that deserves to win an Oscar' TIME OUT It's the spring of 1968, the sun shines down on an America on the brink of civil war. Martin Luther King preaches in vain for non-violent protest and the ghettos of Washington DC seethe with anger. In the middle of this powder-keg is thrust a young black cop, barely out of school himself. Derek Strange believes passionately that he can make a difference, but his friends and family think he's a traitor and a patsy of the white establishment. On April 4th, 1968, Dr King is assassinated on the balcony of his motel in Memphis, Tennessee. And black America rises as one to condemn the slaying of their hero. For one week, it seems that the whole country will fall. And Derek, his brother, his father, his mother and his whole community find themselves at the heart of a battle for the heart and soul of the new world.

Hell To Pay

Hell To Pay

Author: George Pelecanos Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/01/2003

A fatal shooting that strikes too close to home leaves PI Derek Strange determined to find the killer - whatever the cost. From one of the award-winning writers of THE WIRE.Set in darkest, downtown Washington, Hell to Pay begins with Quinn and Strange dealing with the usual detritus of the world's most violent city - a bent cop and a missing teenage-girl-turned-hooker - but then a senseless death on a sunny afternoon shakes even Derek Strange's existence. A victim shot down by bullets meant for another; a tragic accident that strikes just too close to home. Strange's grief is all-consuming and he swears to track down and destroy the killers - ghetto style. But as he throws himself deeper and deeper into the hunt, he has to ask questions of himself and his world that he would rather not.

Shame The Devil

Shame The Devil

Author: George Pelecanos Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/02/2002

'Perhaps the greatest living American crime writer' STEPHEN KINGWashington, D.C., 1995. What should have been a straightforward restaurant robbery goes horribly wrong. Several workers are shot in cold blood; the gunman's brother is killed by the police; a young boy is run over by a careering getaway car.Three years pass. Victims and their relatives gather in the aftermath, still trying to come to terms with their grief. But gunman Frank Farrow has other ideas. Now the heat has died down, he is on his way back to Washington, determined to avenge his lost brother - by killing everyone involved in his death.

Right As Rain

Right As Rain

Author: George Pelecanos Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/10/2001

The first in the excellent Strange and Quinn series from 'The coolest writer in America' GQ. Derek Strange and Terry Quinn are ex-cops turned private detectives in Washington, DC. Hired to investigate the death of an off-duty black police officer at the hands of a white policeman, Strange and Quinn are faced with the institutionalised racism of the nation's most poorly trained and dangerous police force. As the two private detectives confront the degradation of the city's flourishing drug trade, they find themselves up against some of the most implacable, dead-eyed killers ever to grace the pages of a novel. In RIGHT AS RAIN George Pelecanos introduces a memorable pair of characters into the grittily real Washington DC landscape which has led to him being acclaimed as 'a great writer' THE TIMES

The Big Blowdown

The Big Blowdown

Author: George Pelecanos Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/06/2001

Washington DC, 1946. For two local young men, Pete Karras and Joey Recevo, the easiest way to find work after the war is by providing a little muscle for a local boss who runs a protection racket with the Mafia. The trouble with Pete Karras is that he is just too soft on his fellow immigrants, and the last thing the boss wants is for his mob to get soft. The boys have to teach Karras a painful lesson that he won?t forget. Three years later Pete and Joey meet up once more and a final confrontation puts the meaning of friendship and honour to the ultimate test. The Big Blowdown is the first novel in Pelecanos?s acclaimed ?Washington Quartet?.

The Sweet Forever

The Sweet Forever

Author: George Pelecanos Format: Paperback Release Date: 12/10/2000

It's 1986 and Washington DC is being torn apart by the cocaine trade. The Mayor is too busy chasing coke and hookers to care, and the police force is manned by corrupt rednecks like Richard 'King' Tutt. Down in the neighborhoods, black children are shooting each other over nickel bags and the outside world just doesn't care. The only man prepared to do anything about it is Marcus Clay whose new record store - Real Right Records - is in the heart of the ghetto. Business is okay. What isn't okay is that his wife has thrown him out and his best friend, Dimitri Karras, is hitting the recreational substances way too hard.

King Suckerman

King Suckerman

Author: George Pelecanos Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/09/2000

Wilton Cooper is at a drive-in movie when he notices the ugly white boy walk into the projection booth. Seconds later a gun goes off, perfectly timed to coincide with the movie?s noisy climax. When the boy struts coolly out, blood sprayed on the front of his cheap print shirt, Cooper knows he?s found his partner. King Suckerman weaves the blaxploitation films, the drug deals, the soul music and the racial tensions that defined the ?70?s into a story of natural-born killers and two men who risk everything to bring them down. This is the second novel in the DC Quartet, the most explosive contribution to crime fiction since Ellroy?s LA Quartet.