I’ve been a fan of Pelecanos ever since I found out he was one of the creators of The Wire (I’m surely not the first person to tell you to watch that show), and I actually liked this book a little more than the last couple of his I’ve read. It’s still set in the Washington D.C. area, which he does such a great job bringing to life, but it’s not so focused on an "issue". I don’t mind a good issue-focused novel, but sometimes I just want a good crime story. Now don’t get me wrong; this crime story isn’t issue-free. Lucas is an Iraq veteran, and Pelecanos does have a lot to say about veterans and their post-war treatment. But at its heart, this is a story about drugs.
Lucas is a private investigator who specializes in finding things that are lost. He’s also not very particular about which side of the law he’s working on. When the client of a lawyer he normally works for needs some help recovering some "property", Lucas agrees to help. Soon he finds out that the story is much bigger than he could have imagined, and not only is he in danger, but people that have helped him are too.
I liked the character of Lucas. He’s an adopted kid in a mixed-race family, and I liked seeing those dynamics as much as I enjoyed seeing him in the weeds. It’s hard to dislike a man who loves his momma. There’s a strong theme of family relationships throughout the book, whether it’s Lucas and his family, the young man who helps him and his absentee mother, or the father & son crime duo.
I think one of Pelecanos’s strengths is his ability to create complex characters, and Spero Lucas is one I am anxious to read more about.