This review was written by contributing writer Eric Edwards.
I’ve never read any of George Pelecanos’s novels so I was very surprised to finish The Way Home (out today) in a single sitting. The book’s lean prose held my interest without sacrificing character development, setting or, most importantly, story. I literally could not put it down because the characters really shook me up.
The story begins with 17-year old Chris Flynn sitting opposite his parents during visiting day at Pine Ridge, a juvenile detention center in Maryland. Despite the agony he had caused his hard-working middle-class parents, all Chris has on his mind is why a place on flat ground with no pine trees anywhere would be named Pine Ridge. Never wanting for anything, Chris had nonetheless gone from being a strong athlete and avid churchgoer to petty thief and budding pot dealer. When our supposedly rehabilitated hero finally rejoins society, his father gives him a chance to prove himself by providing Chris with a job installing carpet for the family business. Mr. Flynn is even open-minded enough to give Ben, one of Chris’s fellow inmates, employment as well. Alone on one particular install, Chris and Ben find a bag full of money hidden underneath the old flooring they were hired to cover. Ben tries to convince Chris to split it between them. “I’ve seen this movie,” thought Chris. “It always ended up bad.” And that’s exactly what happens.
I literally held my breath as I devoured the pages. Has our hero learned his lesson? What about the people who put the money there in the first place? You know it’s only a matter of time before they come looking for the cash. Admittedly, this is not a particularly new storyline, but Pelecanos manages to keep it fresh and the action moving. It’s a solid read I highly recommend.