You can only read a certain type of book in a day. Usually it’s from a best-selling author who writes page-turning novels that you can quickly motor through, especially if you’ve read many of their books before and know their style well. The books also tend to be a genre fiction you have a weak spot for, such as horror, romance or, in my case, crime fiction.
On this particular day, it was the perfect storm of conditions which made me able to read a book in a day. I was getting the train to, and back from, London in a day so would have at least five hours public transport time to get through most of it. I’d also just finished another book so was in a clear position to start another.
The particular book I read was The Cut, by George P Pelacanos. It had been given to me by one of my brothers who had also given it to another brother before it reached me: the crime fiction habit is shared by the family.
I’ve read pretty much all of Pelacanos’ work, watched the Wire and other TV programmes and films he’s been involved in and The Cut was very similar to these past works. The main character was a tough, handsome and sensitive ex-Marine. From a Greek background, he knows right from wrong and has a strong moral compass that sometimes wavers but always justifiably to the character. There’s lots of talk of specific music and a focus on food, drink and cars.
I was a big fan of Pelacanos when I first read a book by him, which I guess was circa 2001-2, and he seemed fresh and different to what had come before in crime fiction. Now, I’ve read so much of his work I pretty much know what’s going to come. This is not really a criticism as there is enjoyment to be had reading or watching the familiar, or knowing what will happen. There is pleasure to be had from reading a well written story that keeps you interested in each paragraph and keeps the pages turning.
I’ve wondered before how long it takes someone like Pelacanos to write such a book (which is 304 pages long in hardback). It clearly sells well so maybe he decides if he can publish one or two such books a year and it pays the bills and keeps him and his family in pants, with the rest of the time free to pursue other endeavours then good luck to him.