George Pelecanos,
Hard Revolution
(Time Warner, 2004)

Fans of George Pelecanos' novels might be familiar with the character Derek Strange. He has appeared in such books as Right as Rain, Hell to Pay and Soul Circus as a black, middle-aged private investigator. Back in the late 1960s, Derek was a young cop. In the audiobook Hard Revolution, the listener will discover pieces of his past that might explain how he became the man he is today. In other words, this latest novel by Pelecanos is a prequel to the Strange series.

When we first meet Strange, he is a young kid who avoids fights and has a basic sense about the differences between right and wrong. One day, on a dare from some companions, he tries to shoplift. Caught, he gets a second chance when the man sees some good in Derek and lets him go without turning him in. This break sends him on a path far different than some of his companions. The story then jumps ahead almost a decade. By this time, Derek is a rookie on the force. It is a wonder any black man wanted to be a cop in the late '60s. You hardly got any respect from your fellow white officers and most people in the black community treated you like you were a traitor. Still, Strange has to serve his conscience.

Strange might have his life togther. Unfortunately, his brother, Dennis, was a loser. He was in the military, but got out due to a disability. While he received a small pension, it wasn't enough to survive on. Where as he had time for women and drugs, he didn't seem to have time for a legitimate job. Dennis was drawn to a bad crowd and this led to one of two main stories in Hard Revolution. The group Dennis hung around with plotted a robbery of a small grocery store. The second main story line followed a group of white men who killed a black youth in a hit-and-run. All of this happened during the backdrop of racial tensions prior to and shortly after the assasination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Lance Reddick narrates the audiobook. You might recognize him from such films as The Siege and Great Expectations or the HBO series The Wire. I recognized him from the HBO series Oz. I already knew that he had talent speaking in different accents, so I was not surprised that Lance performed the various roles in Hard Revolution with little trouble.

The audiobook of Hard Revolution is abridged to approximately six hours. If you want the complete story, you will obviously have to buy the book. While this story has the ability to stand by itself, it will most likely only appeal to those who are fans of the Derek Strange series. I enjoyed the audiobook overall, but I also have to mention that I was at the end of the second CD (out of five) before my interest was engaged. If you can hang on for two hours, you too might like the tale. If you don't have that kind of patience, however, this audiobook is not for you.

- Rambles
written by Wil Owen
published 24 October 2004

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