“The Man Who Came Uptown”
By George Pelecanos Mulholland, 265 pp. ★★★
George Pelecanos has drawn some heat lately: In an interview about his favorite books with The New York Times, he named 20-odd male authors but only a single female one, Harper Lee – to remark that she wasn’t a favorite. As if to double down, his newest novel, “The Man Who Came Uptown,” is dedicated to Elmore Leonard and Charles Willeford. It’s about a reformed ex-con named Michael and a restless private investigator named Orzanian, whom Michael owes, unfortunately, a favor. Pelecanos is a great storyteller and this is a shrewd, lean, martinismooth suspense novel, with a nuanced portrayal of Washington’s gentrification. Its female lead, Anna, is a hot librarian who, in passages of mawkish affectation, teaches Michael to love reading. (Roll your own eyes, mine are tired.) It’s not exactly a crime that such a gifted writer should have such resolutely male influences and boundaries; but it is a shame.