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Crimea from grass root

George Pelecanos and the TV series The Wire show us the people behind the crime statistics.


The key scene in the crime novel The Night Gardener is not a haunting confrontation with the serial killer who has haunted Washington DC since 1985. Nor does it take place when the investigator suddenly sees a new context in the puzzle -

the pieces he has collected from documents, shabby bars and street scouting.

No, the key scenes in the fourteenth novel by modern crimefighter George Pelecanos occur each time murder investigator Gus Ramone steps over the doorstep, hears the sound of "Summer Nights" from the musical Grease from the TV, smells of onions and garlic from the kitchen, and realizes that both daughter and wife are at home. "They are here and they are safe," he thinks every time, wondering more and more whether teenage son Diego is home, or has been in trouble.

Crimea and emotion

In a space Christmas interview with Dagbladet, Gert Nygårdshaug, the author of the quirky Fredric Drum books, thanked himself for what he called "typical women's crime". "In this kind

In criminal literature, I find it immaterial how love life and privacy unfold. It would have ended up as a hybrid, a hopeless crime, "he said.

Of course, Nygårdshaug aims at books where affixed love stories provide

romantic tension and sheet action for sleep-deprived private detectives and hard-boiled police

researchers, but at the same time today's best crime stories are those that place the "who did it" mystery safely in the background, instead of concentrating on the social ripple effects of crime and the kind of people who hide behind worn-out clichés like The Tired Investigator and The Clever Criminal . Today, few do this better than George Pelecanos, the grandson of Greek immigrants and with three adopted children – two African-American teenage boys and a daughter from Guatemala. In March

comes the Pelecanos novel Black circus in Norwegian, after previously we got Clean Snow (2004) and Hell loose (2005).

The crime of The Night Gardener was solved based on the Freeway Phantom killings in Washington in the 1970s, but the plot of a serial killer who kills children with palindrome names (Eve, Ava, Otto) is both petty and not very exciting. Then place Pelecano's murder case safely in the back seat, instead of giving us what he really mastered: Unadorned depictions of everyday life in the poorer parts of Washington DC, told with the help of a large and varied personal gallery, a solid ear for dialogue and an intricate network of parallel stories.

Gus Ramone and his family are at the center, but the fate of some gangsters and Ramone's police colleagues – and what drives them – is also important. In one scene, the gangster reminisces

Romeo Brock talks about the desperate Red Fury, and realizes what is his goal in life: “He liked old stories of lawless men like Red. Men who fucked in the law, and if and when they would be killed themselves. What made life worth living was that other men talked about you in bars and on street corners after you were dead and buried. "Where Brock realizes that if you can't be famous, then you can be famous, it's less dramatic goals that drive investigators. “Nobody was at work because of the desire for big money. For most, the job was not a calling. For some reason, they looked like murder investigators, and that's where they ended up. "

The police as a collective

This portrayal of the police as a collective, characterized by everyday work and private challenges, has roots in Ed McBain's "87th Precinct" books (1956-2005) and television series such as Hill Street Blues (1981-1987), Homicide: Life on the Street (1993-1999) and NYPD Blue (1993-2005), and completed at the fingertips of the brilliant HBO series The Wire (2002-). Suitably, it has brought in Pelecanos and like-minded Crime writers like Dennis Lehane and Richard Price to refresh dialogue and credibility in the script.

In the work with The Wire, Pelecanos for the first time got to follow murder investigators at work, not only to get the professional credibility in place, but also to gain insight into the small talk and the attitudes of the police officers. "I wanted to get an insight into how these police officers are like people. I studied the documents they wrote and what kind of programs they had on the computer, but really looked at what kind of pictures they had hung up on their message boards. Here were police officers who hung up pictures of similar side by side pictures of their children, ”Pelecanos told the New York Times.

The Wire is now ahead of its fifth and final season in the US, but on our edges only Swedish TV has shown the series. March is released

season three on DVD in Norway, and when the series draws one issue beyond 12-13 episodes, and viewers have to deal with over 40 characters and more red threads than a knit sweater, there is no doubt that the viewer should rather control the tempo themselves . If you miss a single episode, you quickly get in trouble, and it can always be tempting to rewind to keep track of all the intrigues that flourish internally in the police, out among the petty criminals on the street and in the bandmates' inner comforts.

As in George Pelecanos' novels, the criminal case in The Wire is just a pretext to lift the stones to see life unfold in hiding from the public. In the first season, the eager investigator James McNultys gets the desire to go after the business of the drug baron unknown to the police Avon Barksdale store

ring effects, and in season two, McNulty sets up a network roll-out

human trafficking, corrupt port workers and international mafia activities when he finds a female body in the harbor pool.

The most important thing in The Wire is to show the single fates of working with and against crime, and thus we are just as sympathetic to the ambitious port worker, the conscientious drug lord and the drug addict as we feel antipathy for the cynical police officer or the alcoholic and unfaithful homicide detective. In the dark of the grassroots crime, all cats are gray.

Reviewed by Øyvind Holen

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