Kemper's Reviews > The Cut

The Cut by George Pelecanos
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
405390
's review
Mar 13, 13

bookshelves: 2011, crime-mystery, detectives
Read from December 13 to 17, 2011

After several stand-alone literary crime novels and working on television shows like The Wire and Treme, it looks like George Pelecanos is getting back into series mode, and he’s created a helluva main character who I hope we will be seeing in many, many books to come.

Spero Lucas is a young veteran of the Iraq war who now works as an investigator for a defense attorney, but Spero also moonlights in recovering stolen property for 40% of the value. A big time pot dealer is awaiting trial in jail, and he asks Spero to look into the theft of several valuable packages of marijuana. While he has a few reservations about working for the dealer, Spero takes the gig and gets mixed up with some dangerous people. Of course, Spero’s time in Iraq taught him a thing or two about dealing with dangerous people.

The set-up for this seems like it could have been the basis for a cheesy action movie starring someone like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, but Pelecanos has crafted a realistic and complex character in Spero. His time in Iraq has left him impatient, unwilling to sit through college classes or to work for anyone but himself. He wants to live his life now, and on his own terms, but he’s also a careful man who handles his affairs with the discipline of a soldier. Having fought for his own life in the desert has also left him more than willing to lethally deal with any threats with a minimum of guilt. Spero isn’t a mad dog or a guy looking to be a bad ass, but if the situation arises, he won’t lose a minute’s sleep if he has to kill someone.

Like all Pelecanos characters, Spero is also a product of his environment. The adopted son of a Greek family, he has deep ties and roots in that community as well as long personal history in Washington D.C. Spero wandering around D.C. while trying to work out who stole the pot while meeting up with a varied cast of characters reminded me a bit of how Lawrence Block’s Matt Scudder roams around New York and weaves his personal life into the case he’s working.

Pelecanos also worked a nice hat tip into some old school crime writers in this one. Spero’s adopted brother is an inner city English teacher who uses crime novels by Elmore Leonard and Richard Stark (a/k/a Donald Westlake) in his classes, and there’s a couple of funny and interesting scenes where he’s talking about those books to his students.

If you’re looking for a realistic and gritty crime story with an interesting character, grab a copy of The Cut and enjoy the ride.
41 likes · likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Cut.
sign in »

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

dateDown_arrow    newest »

message 1: by Dan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dan Schwent I've been curious about this one since I saw it mentioned on The Violent World of Parker.


James Thane Pelecanos is one of my favorites; I'll be looking forward to your thoughts about this one.


Kemper Dan wrote: "I've been curious about this one since I saw it mentioned on The Violent World of Parker."

It must be on the Parker website because the main character has a brother who is an English teacher. He uses crime novels in his English class and there's a short section where his class is discussing the opening of The Hunter. He also has them read Unknown Man # 89 by Elmore Leonard. Nice little hat tipping by Pellecanos there.


Kemper James wrote: "Pelecanos is one of my favorites; I'll be looking forward to your thoughts about this one."

Finished it this morning and liked it a lot. Review to come in the near future.


David "proud member of Branwen's adventuring party" This book sounds fascinating! I'll have to check it out. Great review!


Kemper David wrote: "This book sounds fascinating! I'll have to check it out. Great review!"

I think it's out in paperback now, and there's a new one featuring Spero out later this year. Hope you enjoy it.


back to top