Download What It Was Audiobook

What It Was Audiobook, by George P. Pelecanos Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: George P. Pelecanos Narrator: JD Jackson Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Series: The Derek Strange and Terry Quinn Series Release Date: January 2012 ISBN: 9781611130102
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (720 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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Washington, D.C., 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's 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 Reviews

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  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patrick | 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 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 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 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. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeff | 11/26/2013

    " There are a couple of character descriptions in here that are straight out masters classes in how to introduce and develop a character. amazing. the book itself is amazing as well. Pelecanos just keeps getting better. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Peter | 10/22/2013

    " Hard boiled 70s D.C. Loved it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Veronica | 9/30/2013

    " A general type of detective novels. It can hold you but nothing special "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Al | 9/28/2013

    " Another good Derek Strange novel by George Pelecanos. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim | 8/21/2013

    " So much better than The Cut. A good read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 William | 6/7/2013

    " Crime caper set in Washington in the mid 70s. Mostly in the black community. Move along well with lots of local color. Sa a side, very strong on the black music scene of that time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wilhelmina | 5/14/2013

    " A quick, enjoyable read by one of my favorite authors, bringing back some familiar characters. Descriptions of DC and musical references right on point, as usual. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Summer | 2/26/2013

    " very good , yet so hard ! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ken | 11/21/2012

    " Typically entertaining Pelecanos. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lynette | 10/7/2012

    " I liked this a lot. I love the way Pelecanos writes, and the reader of the audio was outstanding. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Blair | 5/15/2012

    " Just for fun reading. I really like Pelecanos. Not everyone will...his novels are usually pretty violent. But they're always interesting and this novel was no exception. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Duncan | 5/10/2012

    " I really enjoy reading about places in the DC area and how they have changed. Like, U Street at 13th NW in the 1970s was not the gentrified neighborhood it is now. And the Derek Strange private detective character is always interesting. And I don't even like detective novels. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dennis | 4/14/2012

    " Not to be too cheezy, if you like The Wire, you'd like this book. Written by one of the Wire writers, it reads much like the show. Set in '70's DC, it would make a great Blacksploitation mini series. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alan | 2/7/2012

    " Just finished and enjoyed, as I do every Pelecanos book. I don't think it's his very best, but it's damn good. Takes his great character Derek Strange back to his roots. As always, memorable characters and sets the scene very well. "

About the Author

George Pelecanos is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels set in and around Washington, DC. His works have earned him the Raymond Chandler Award in Italy, the Falcon Award in Japan, and the Grand Prix Du Roman Noir in France. He is also an independent-film producer, an essayist, and a producer and Emmy-nominated writer of the HBO hit series The Wire. He writes for the acclaimed HBO series Treme.

About the Narrator

J. D. Jackson is a theater professor, aspiring stage director, and award-winning audiobook narrator. He is a classically trained actor, and his television and film credits include roles on House, ER, Law & Order, Hack, Sherrybaby, Diary of a City Priest, and Lucky Number Slevin. He is the recipient of more than a dozen Earphones Awards for narration and an Odyssey Honor for G. Neri’s Ghetto Cowboy, and he was also named one of AudioFile magazine’s Best Voices of the Year for 2012 and 2013. An adjunct professor at Los Angeles Southwest College, he has an MFA in theater from Temple University.