Work fueled by rage can be many things, but it is seldom boring. And while Soul Circus offers George P. Pelecanos' usual menu of gangs, murder, and racism, it's driven by fury over the easy destruction wrought by handguns. Handguns that can be bought on the cheap; that trigger waves of crime; that gush into Washington, D.C., from the South, flooding three quarters of the city with homicides and horror. The result is the author's most satisfying Derek Strange novel -- a series that thus far has been a decidedly mixed bag. But you have to wonder how much longer he can keep this up: With each successive turn, Pelecanos loses a little more of the joy that made books like his 1996 masterpiece, ''The Big Blowdown,'' bop.