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What It Was

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


Washington, D.C., 1972. Derek Strange has left the police department and set up shop as a private investigator. His former partner, Frank "Hound Dog" Vaughn, is still on the force. When a young woman comes to Strange asking for his help recovering a cheap ring she claims has sentimental value, the case leads him onto Vaughn's turf, where a local drug addict's been murdered, shot point-blank in his apartment. Soon both men are on the trail of a ruthless killer: Red Fury, so called for his looks and the car his girlfriend drives, but a name that fits his personality all too well. Red Fury doesn't have a retirement plan, as Vaughn points out - he doesn't care who he has to cross, or kill, to get what he wants. As the violence escalates and the stakes get higher, Strange and Vaughn know the only way to catch their man is to do it their own way.

Rich with details of place and time - the cars, the music, the clothes - and fueled by non-stop action, this is Pelecanos writing in the hard-boiled noir style that won him his earliest fans and placed him firmly in the ranks of the top crime writers in America.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 20, 2012 – At the start of this action-driven novel, a special treat for longtime Pelecanos fans, two old friends, Derek Strange and Nick Stefanos, enjoy a few drinks in a Washington, D.C., bar, where Strange relates a story that has become the stuff of myth on the streets. Flashback to 1972, one of the most volatile and exciting years in the country's history. Strange, who left the D.C. police force after the 68 riots, has set up shop as a private investigator. A young woman hires Strange to find a stolen ring, and the case soon leads him to a homicide scene, where he meets up with his former partner, Frank "Hound Dog" Vaughn. Vaughn is on the trail of a killer, Robert Lee Jones, whose street name, Red Fury, fits not just his temperament but his formidable girlfriend's sleek red-over-white Plymouth Fury GT Sport. As Vaughn and Strange work their respective cases, a series of increasingly brazen and violent crimes keep bringing them together. They quickly realize that the only way to take down Red Fury is to do it their own way. Inspired by a real chapter in D.C. history, Pelecanos (The Cut) gives us the rich period detail the cars, clothes, music, and attitude of the 1970s.

Customer Reviews

The Cut

Dead on language, voice, dress, and music of early 70's DC streets. Put on Mayfield vinyl, sip JW Black, and turn the pages while Pelecanos drives you through his town in a 71 Plymouth Fury with dual exhaust.

great !

This book really captures the 70's. It made the music, the cars, the clothes and the social issues come alive again. You gotta love it!

Solid cops & robbers story

Nothing super original pertaining to the story line. Very detailed and many parallels to the storytelling like The Wire on HBO. Enjoyable read if you like 70's era theme, detailed character development and slick dialogue.

What It Was
View in iTunes
  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Mysteries & Thrillers
  • Published: Jan 23, 2012
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Seller: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Print Length: 272 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings