THE CUT by George Pelecanos

Book Quote:

“You want me to recover your lost packages.”
“Or the cash, if they done offed it already. I’m not looking for any muscle here, Spero. Just get me back what’s mine. No one I got has your skills. I see what you did for my son. Got to say I was impressed.”
“What’s the value of the product?”
“Retail,” said Lucas.
“Roughly, one hundred and thirty thousand.”
“I’d get forty.”
“Percent,” said Lucas.
“That’s fifty thousand and change.”
“Fifty two. Per package.”

Book Review:

Review by Chuck Barksdale  AUG 29, 2011)

In The Cut, the first book in a new series, George Pelecanos presents 29-year old tough private investigator and Iraqi war vet Spero Lucas. Lucas’s main job is to help defense attorney Tom Petersen, but he also works on his own at times. After helping gather information that leads to the acquittal of 15-year-old David Hawkins, Spero, at the request of Petersen, decides to visit with David’s father Anwan Hawkins, a drug dealer also represented by attorney Tom Petersen. Hawkins, in prison awaiting a major drug charge, wants Spero to investigate some theft of marijuana from a couple of his employees who are still running his drug business. Although somewhat reluctant, Spero decides to help as long as his 40% return fee cut is agreed to by Hawkins.

Spero meets with Hawkins’ two main lieutenants, Tavon Lynch and Edwin Davis, both 20 and overconfident in their ability from Spero’s perspective. They explain that drugs are shipped by overnight mail to homes where resident are not at home during the day. Twice their deliveries have been taken from the selected homes before they could quickly claim it. Lucas finds that this is not some small time theft and he quickly finds things not as he expected and has to face some pressure to stop his investigation. He’s certainly up for the challenge and is not afraid to show a little violence of his own to get what he wants and needs.

The Cut is certainly an excellent start of this new series that will be sure to bring back some readers who were missing some hard crime that was less prevalent in Pelecanos’ recent work. Of course, the dedicated readers will also be satisfied as well.

I became a fan of George Pelecanos in 2002 after deciding to buy Right as Rain at a book signing where he showed up with Michael Connelly. At that point, I had not heard of him but was impressed with what he had to say and what he read from the book. After reading Right as Rain, I quickly looked for his backlist of titles (only 5 books at that time) and have read almost everything he has written since. He has changed somewhat over the years depending on what he wanted to write, but everything he has written has certainly had that George Pelecanos style with excellent but rough dialog with most action taking place in and around the parts of Washington DC not visited by tourists.

In recent years, Pelecanos has spent more time on family relationships than on private investigators that were more prevalent in his earlier works, especially in the Derek Strange series that started with Right as Rain. With The Cut, he has returned to this style, although of course, family relationships are still important and prevalent. The family in The Cut is not very traditional, but has the typical Pelecanos’ Greek influences, even though Spero and most of his siblings are adopted and not Greek. Spero Lucas’ relationship with his father is also important to him and even though his father has passed, he always finds time to visit his gravesite. Spero is closest to his brother Leo, an African-American English teacher of one of the inner city schools. Spero and Lucas are the two favorite children of their Mother Eleni and the only ones who still spend any time with her. Lucas does need the help of Leo when a potential witness to one of the drug thefts is Ernest Lindsay, a student of Leo’s. Lucas shows his softer side when he works hard to protect Lindsay when he becomes potentially threatened.

Although I’ve read most of George Pelecanos’ books, I have difficulty in remembering all his various characters (plus I’ve still not read 2 of his early books). I’ve noticed in prior books that he likes to make some of his characters make minor or sometimes not so minor, appearance in his books. One of these days, I’ll write the characters names down so I don’t miss these references as that will be the only way I will remember. I did pick up the minor reference to Derek Strange, but if I missed any others, I apologize and would appreciate if you could let me know.

AMAZON READER RATING: from 83 readers
PUBLISHER: Reagan Arthur Books (August 29, 2011)
REVIEWER: Chuck Barksdale
AUTHOR WEBSITE: George Pelecanos
EXTRAS: Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: We are big fans of George Pelecanos, read more of our reviews:


Featuring Derek Strange and Terry Quinn:

Featuring P.I. Spero Lucas:

Featuring Nick Stefanos:

The D.C. Quartet:


August 29, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Sleuths Series, Washington, D.C.

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