Year of Publication: 1994
Number of Pages: 200 pages
Genre: Crime, thriller, action, noir
Summary: Constantine is a drifter who has spent seventeen years travelling around going from one job to the next. He hitches a ride with an elderly man named Polk who is heading to Washington DC, Constantine's home town. Constantine reluctantly agrees to accompany Polk to DC after being promised money. However Polk is there to see a powerful gangster named Grimes and he and Constantine agree to join five other men in a dual liquor store hold-up that Grimes is planning. However, it turns out that each of the criminals involved in the planned robbery have their own agenda and Constantine finds himself caught in a web of violence and betrayal.
Opinions: This early book from acclaimed crime writer George Pelecanos is a tense and violent action thriller. It wears it's pulp credentials proudly on it's sleeve and comes across like one of the tough film noir crime thrillers from the 1940s and 1970s. The book is short and punchy and empty of any unessentials. Several typical Pelecanos themes feature in the book such as 1970s soul and funk music, old cars, and detailed descriptions of the workplace (the title character works in a shoe store from where he gets the nickname "Shoedog"). The plot constantly moves forward and is always entertaining. It's ideal for reading on a plane or train or a long dull afternoon. It's surprising it hasn't been filmed yet, actually, because it really is crying out for a movie adaptation.