September 9, 2006


Higher Learning in the Drug Trade for Four Baltimore Students (VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN, 9/09/06, NY Times)

The kids are Duquan Weems, known as Dukie (Jermaine Crawford), Randy Wagstaff (Maestro Harrell), Namond Brice (Julito McCullum) and Michael Lee (Tristan Wilds). Their performances are incandescent, award worthy. Written and conceived by the lords of urban crime writing — Ed Burns, George P. Pelecanos, Dennis Lahane and Richard Price, whose themes from his novel “Clockers” move to center stage this season — these characters are broken but salvageable, young would-be predators who might turn to prey before it’s all over. Dukie is scholarly, penniless and weak. Randy is impish, effervescent and unguarded. Namond is entitled, vain and lazy. And Michael is mature, muscular and self-possessed. He’s at ease in the company of killers. Their fates become urgent as the season charges on.

The other new plot line is about Baltimore’s mayoral election. Tommy Carcetti (Aidan Gillen), a compromised political sharpie, is ambitious and exhausted by turns; whether or not he has a conscience is anyone’s guess. He’s running for mayor. His opponent is Mayor Clarence V. Royce (Glynn Turman), the brilliantly corrupt incumbent. It’s hard to know — for the story’s sake — who should win.

The mystery that propels the season is that in the midst of a full-force drug war, there are no bodies so far. The opening scene on tonight’s episode, in which a coldblooded street urchin buys a nail gun at a Home Depot-like store, is a wonder: a chilling exchange between a salesman and a customer about shooting nails. It’s also our first clue. “The Wire” is a beautiful, brave series. This is its best season yet.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 9, 2006 10:12 AM

Huh. I didn't realize that Richard Price was involved with the Wire. Has he always been?

I recall greatly enjoying the novel Clockers, and being very disappointed with the movie version.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at September 9, 2006 2:58 PM

I think Pelecanos joined up for season 2 and Price and Lehane came in for season 3. I liked "Clockers" as well and I read almost all of Lehane's stuff. Check him out of you haven't already. The first episode of season 4 is out On Demand. It looks like another great season.

Posted by: Patrick H at September 9, 2006 4:20 PM

Ok, I just rented Season 1 disk 1 from Blockbuster. Let's see if I get hooked. I loved Clockers (the book), but the next Richard Price novel I read was not so great (Freedomland). I will have to check out Lehane--nothing reads better than a good cops and robbers story.

Posted by: ted welter at September 9, 2006 5:35 PM

Lehane drank too deeply at the well of Parker. Loren D. Estleman is the far superior PI novelist.

Pelecanos is terrific though.

Posted by: oj at September 9, 2006 5:47 PM

I just read two Pelecanos PI Strange novels, "Right as Rain" and "Hell to Pay", since they were recommended on BrothersJudd. They were alright, but I preferred Lehane's Kenzie-Gennaro novels. They certainly are similar to Parker's (who I enjoyed until Spencer was emasculatd by the evil Susan).

Posted by: Patrick H at September 9, 2006 6:04 PM

Spenser was done for by the 4th or 5th book in the series and Lehane started from that point. Robert Crais too.

Posted by: oj at September 9, 2006 9:53 PM

Do you mean Crais was done by the fourth book or started from that point? His first few were great, but I haven't read anything of his for several years. Same with Lehane. What is it about Pelecanos you like so much? For me, his social commentary gets in the way.

Posted by: Patrick H at September 10, 2006 12:18 AM