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Download What It Was Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample What It Was, by George Pelecanos Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (720 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: George Pelecanos, George P. Pelecanos Narrator: J. D. Jackson Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Washington, DC, 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 has 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Pelecanos is crazy for details, so all these particulars—the colorful names, the flashy clothes, the sexy cars, and soulful music—add to the big picture he’s continually drawing of crucial moments in America’s changing history.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “In recent decades, as American crime fiction has reached new heights, a few novels have been outstanding, including Dennis Lehane’s Mystic River, Laura Lippman’s What the Dead Know, and Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series. The five Strange novels belong on that list. They’re about crime, but, finally, they’re a profound meditation on good and evil in this city, mostly in parts of it that many of us pass through often but never really see.”

    Washington Post

  • “Action-packed…a special treat…Inspired by a real chapter in DC history, Pelecanos gives us the rich period detail—the cars, clothes, music, and attitude—of the 1970s.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Pelecanos writes with the same streetwise authenticity he brought to the HBO show The Wire, with memorable characters cut from the same cloth. Narrator J. D. Jackson’s characterizations are so spot-on that listeners will practically see the hookers, pimps, junkies, killers, and a particularly talented cop named Frank ‘Hound Dog’ Vaughn. It’s strong stuff, pure adrenaline.”


  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • A 2012 Washington Post Notable Book for Fiction
  • A 2012 USA Today Best Book

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Patrick Coffey | 2/12/2014

    " I was introduced to Pelecanos through his writing on HBO's "The Wire". This book didn't live up to "The Wire" (but really, what can?) but it was well written. I struggled with managing to actually care about the characters though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jon | 1/27/2014

    " This book is based on a summer crime spree which occurred in Washington, DC sometimes in the early Seventies. Pelecanos weaves the stories of citizens, police, criminals, and politicians into a compelling novel featuring a long running favorite character Derek Strange. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Kathy | 1/13/2014

    " As this author wrote extensively for The Wire, I thought I'd love the books. They were just ok. He really tries to write the authentic "black" experience, but he tries too hard, and frankly didn't think he succeeded. While The Wire felt real, this didn't so much. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Susan | 12/13/2013

    " Terrible. Really bad sentence structure didn't add to the feel of the book. It was fractured and didn't always make sense. I abandoned this book at about 100 pages mark. Why read something bad when I have a tonne of other books to read. "

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