Book Review: The Cut by George Pelecanos

The Cut
George Pelecanos
Reagan Arthur Books, August 2011

Don’t expect anything new from Pelecanos’ new book introducing a new lead character. You’re going to get the same down to earth strong story, the same strong, definitive characters, the same devotion to music, food, books, and culture as you’ve read in his other novels. Which means you’re going to experience the same enjoyment.

Ex Marine and Iraq vet Spero Lucas works as an investigator for a Washington, D.C. defense attorney. He also has a sideline business finding lost items for people. Drug runner Anwan Hawkins, in jail awaiting trial, hires Lucas to find two shipments of marijuana stolen from drop-off sites.

Lucas discusses the problem with Hawkins’ employees, who are laid back and easy going. The picture quickly changes. Lucas must use his intelligence and various contacts because the stakes have been raised and the people he’s up against are serious about keeping him from receiving his ‘cut.’

Pelecanos presents the Washington D.C. urban culture and its people in a straightforward manner. It is what it is. The details are basic and not lavish. Every good guy has little faults and every bad guy knows the potential consequences of his choices. There’s no hype, no flash, no sensationalism, but with The Cut you don’t mind. I tend to view Pelecanos’ stories as ‘A Day in the Life of’ or time elapsed snapshots of a chapter out of the lives of the characters, with a little flavor and spice added to keep it interesting.

Reviewed by Stephen L. Brayton, August 2011.