Review of The Triangle : A Year On The Ground With New York’s Blood’s and Crips by Kevin Deutsch

Plot Synopsis

The Linden Triangle: Linden Avenue and Linden Place, Hempstead, Long Island. At this blighted intersection, seemingly forgotten by the middle and upper class communities that surround it, the dream of suburban comfort and safety has devolved into a nightmare of flying bullets and bloodshed. Here, a war between the Bloods and Crips has torn a once-peaceful neighborhood apart.The book tells the true story of one year in the life of a suburban village-turned-war-zone.

Review

I’ve written in the past that expectation can ruin a book/film and this is certainly the case with Kevin Deutsch’s ‘The Triangle’. I got this for Christmas after reading and really enjoying an extract online months and months before its December release date.

Essentially, what the extract promised to me was another book like David Simon’s (creator of The Wire) ‘Homocide : A Year On The Killing Streets’ i.e.  Gripping, true to life drama that completely engrosses me. These are high standards that 99,9% of books will struggle to live up to but the extract on the internet had really grabbed me and caught my attention.

What we get instead is David Simon super super super light. Kevin Deutsch explains in an afterward the lengths he went to get accurate reporting from the triangle and it is all very commendable. Essentially, he hung around the Triangle and chatted to the drug dealers.

This effort doesn’t translate to the narrative though. None of the characters are ever really fleshed out in anyway. It seems that Deutsch took everything he was told at face value and as such I never feel that I know even the names of 95% of the characters. Members of the Crips or the Bloods hit each other and different members hit back but the writing struggles to make it clear who each character is.

More problematic though is that narrative doesn’t feel realistic or believable. One of the main characters is killed with a bullet to the head at  point blank range after being spotted by the rival gang. This character has been in hiding for a few days and hasn’t been talking to anyone.

Deutsch chooses to write up his death as if he was talking to the dead man moments before his murder. He writes as if he knew his thoughts. How this is possible I do not know but when you are reading a true to life crime thriller the disconnect is jarring.

This event happens perhaps 80% of the way into the novel and the way it is told just checks me out. Already the writing has felt superficial and now it takes on all the substance of candyfloss in the wind.

The best I can say for ‘The Triangle : A Year On The Ground With New York’s Bloods and Crips’ us that it is a quick read. The worst I can say is that it is completely forgettable and without impact. This book aims to be The Wire or Homocide : A Year on the Killing Streets and fails completely.

One word Avoid.

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