Review: ‘The Martini Shot’ by George Pelecanos

January 30, 2015 5:59 PM

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You can’t judge a book by its cover, but how about what’s written on it? Since The Way Home in 2009, George Pelecanos’ jackets have promoted him not as Washington’s premier crime novelist, but as someone who helped make a TV show about Baltimore: He is the award-winning writer/producer of The Wire. (The most prestigious trophy on his mantel, arguably, is a shared Edgar for his writing on that show.) The tag makes good business sense, given the show’s commercial and critical success, but it diminishes his status as a novelist in favor of his role as a cog in a collaborative entertainment.

The Martini Shot, the bracing and witty novella that closes Pelecanos’ first collection of stories, is a sly consideration of this mud-wrestling match between art and commerce. Its narrator, Victor, is a writer-producer on a cable-TV cop show set in Louisiana, “a state that offered significant tax c...

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