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City Desk

When hard-boiled crime novelist George Pelecanos writes about the District, he favors the city’s dark alleys and tough guys over its marble monuments and stiffs in suits. So it’s no surprise that Tommy Edelin—the alleged kingpin of what prosecutors call one of the most dangerous drug gangs ever to do business south of the Anacostia—has found his way into Pelecanos’ imagination. The author was spotted recently in the back rows of U.S. District Courtroom 21, where Edelin is the lead defendant in the city’s first death-penalty trial in more than 20 years. Pelecanos says his interest in Edelin is not so much in the man as it is in a death-penalty trial in a city that’s traditionally opposed capital punishment. A character loosely based on Edelin will appear in his next novel, due out in February. —Annys Shin