The Man Who Came Uptown by George Pelecanos

Book review of “The Man Who Came Uptown” by George Pelecanos. Published by Mulholland Books in September 2018.

This book is filled with meh. And when you think there couldn’t possibly be anymore meh, you turn a page and there it is.

Was it the overly detailed geographic descriptions, the product placements throughout, or was it the story filled with ennui? Possibly, all three. Pelecanos languid “The Man Who Came Uptown” was a sucker punch of boredom and feebleness.

But David, you must be exaggerating, it can’t be that bad? Sadly it is.

Phil Ornazian stepped out of his house, a neat brick brownstone southeast of Grant Circle, in Petworth, on the 400 block of Taylor Street, Northwest.

Let me help Pelecanos here.

Phil Ornazian stepped out of his house, a neat brick brownstone southeast of Grant Circle.

Much better. But cutting down Pelecanos’ GPS narration would make a serious dent on 63,000 words that make up “The Man Who Came Uptown”. Take this for example.

Ornazian took Fifth Street south to Park Place, going along the Soldiers’ Home, and then back on Fifth, between the McMillan Reservoir and behind Howard University, bypassing the congestion of Georgia Avenue and coming out around Florida to the western edge of LeDroit Park. He was headed for New York Avenue and a quick route out of the city. Ornazian knew the backstreets and the shortcuts. He didn’t need Waze or any other app. He’d lived in the District his whole life.

And then the product placement.

Ornazian was wearing an American Giant blue hoodie over a black T, and Levi’s 501s cuffed up over black Wolverine boots.


But as always it comes down to characters and story. Pelecanos gives us three main characters: a private investigator who dabbles on the wrong side of the law, a bored housewife who is a prison librarian, and a recently released ex-con who has discovered reading and is looking to go straight. Oh, the potential is there, but as boring as that read, the pages of “The Man Who Came Uptown” the tediousness of their lives.

If you’re interested in reading George Pelecanos’s “The Man Who Came Uptown”, and you really shouldn’t be, check it out from the library.

Buy: Amazon

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