The Man Who Came Uptown by George Pelecanos
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
”When he read a book, the door to his cell was open. He could step right through it. He could walk those hills under the big blue sky. Breathe the fresh air around him. See the shadows moving over the trees. When he read a book, he was not locked up. He was free.”
The best thing that happens to Michael Hudson is getting locked up.
The second best thing is meeting prison librarian Anna Kaplan Byrne.
The third best thing is the day he opens a book and lets the magic happen.
The body might be caged, but books are time machines, enablers of armchair travelers, and facilitators for readers to live hundreds of lives in one lifetime. They can be a raft in a turbulent life. They can induce emotions that have never been felt so strongly before. They can give the reader a code by which to live his life. They can be a balloon tied to the wrist of the crushingly depressed that gently lifts them up.
Books are as dangerous as black sorcery, as compelling as white witchcraft, as powerful as a wizard’s staff. Is it any wonder that they were burned by the Nazis as if they were a living entity or by the Inquisition as if they were a heretic of flesh and bone?
Anybody need to be locked up? If you don’t read, maybe some time in solitary will cure you of your affliction.
”To him, a book was like a painting that hung in a museum. It was like a piece of art. There was nothing that compared to holding a book in his hands and scanning the words on the page. It made him ‘see’ what he was reading. It was how he dreamed.”
*Fist bump* to all the readers out there that do more than read, but also see.
Phil Ornazian is a man on the make. He is a private investigator who helps find people. He recovers lost valuable objects. He robs criminals. Most of the time he tries to do the right thing, but there are no lines between right and wrong for him. They blur into one another with vast amounts of room for interpretation. It might take a wrong to make a right. He lives by the Ornazian code of conduct.
Ornazian has a chat with a witness, and next thing Michael Hudson knows, he is free. When Ornazian pulls up in his black on black Ford Edge and makes sure that Hudson knows why he is walking around wearing something other than an orange jumpsuit, Hudson has a sinking feeling that staying straight is going to be difficult when you owe a guy like Ornazian.
Being free is generally an illusion for most of us.
George Pelecanos’s reverence for books is on full display. Books are dropped into the plot like exploding hand grenades. I was adding books to my want-to-read list on Goodreads as fast and furious as a Halo video game grand champion blowing through the early levels. My brain was lit up like a flamethrower. I was eating up pages like they were coming out of a Mickey Mouse pez dispenser. As if I weren’t hooked enough, Pelecanos mentions Don Carpenter’s book Hard Rain Falling, which is one of the best hardboiled books I’ve ever read, right up there with Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliott Chaze and the best of Raymond Chandler.
So bring this book, and let’s take a walk uptown together, and see how much trouble we can get into.
I want to thank Little, Brown and Ira Boudah for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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