Thursday, September 8, 2011

Book Review: "The Cut" by George Pelecanos

George Pelecanos is one of the best crime writers around today. A native of the Washington, DC area, all of his books take place in the area, and tend to explore the thin line between good and evil, and how easy it can be to cross that line. (This is a theme that Pelecanos also explored as one of the main writers of the television series The Wire.) His newest book, The Cut, is one of his best.

Spero Lucas returned from the Iraqi war ready to do something. He finds a job doing special investigations for a defense attorney, and also does freelance work for other people, returning stolen property. He is good at what he does and commands a healthy 40 percent cut of the findings for his work. When a noted drug kingpin asks Spero to find out who has been stealing drug shipments from him, he jumps into the investigation full bore, but finds far more than he bargained for. As he tries to keep control of the situation, using all of his physical and intellectual strength, he wonders how much a successful job really is worth to his life, his future, and the love of those around him.

When George Pelecanos is at his best, he creates complex characters who are far more than what they seem at first glance. Spero Lucas is a terrific creation; you think he's a cocky former soldier who gets by on his intellect, good looks and physical strength, but he is far more complicated than that, and the depth Pelecanos gives him makes him tremendously appealing. The action in this book crackles, and while you may see some of the plot twists coming even quicker than Spero does, the pacing of the book and Pelecanos' storytelling ability will make you want to race through the book as quickly as possible. It's so good to have Pelecanos back at the top of his game, and I can only hope his next book will feature Lucas again.

Do yourself a favor. If you're a fan of crime novels and you've never read any George Pelecanos, pick up The Cut or nearly any one of his other books, and you won't be disappointed. You'll wonder where you've been all his life.

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