The Cut by George Pelecanos
Dan's Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher: Reagan Arthur / Back Bay Books
When an imprisoned drug dealer hires Spero Lucas to find out who's been stealing his product, Spero takes the case. Can Spero recover the stolen weed and collect his forty percent?
The Cut is a breezy crime tale that reads as smoothly as an Elmore Leonard. Pelecanos makes Washington DC as much of a character as Leonard does with Detroit and Miami. Spero Lucas is a compelling lead, an ex-marine who works as an investigator. The drug case he's taken quickly spirals out of control. However, the case wasn't as interesting to me as Spero himself.
Spero's a complicated man and no one understands him but his woman. Or maybe I'm thinking of someone else. At any rate, I liked the idea of an Iraq war veteran who's having trouble adjusting to normal life. His tastes in food and Jamaican music further endeared him to me. The guys he goes up against are pretty well drawn as well, particularly the Holley family. Pelecanos' bad guys have relatively reasonable motivations and come off as real people rather than caricatures.
One thing I really liked was that Spero's brother is an English teacher and has his students read crime books, like Richard Stark's The Hunter and Unknown Man #89 by Elmore Leonard. That's a class I would have loved taking back in the day. Spero listening to Ernest Ranglin and King Tubby also sweetened the deal the for me.
That's about all I have to say. If I had to complain about something, it would be that I wanted the book to be about twice as long. I'll be reading more Pelecanos in the near future.
Also posted on Goodreads