Dan's Reviews > The Cut

The Cut by George Pelecanos
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Feb 08, 12

bookshelves: 2012

pelecanos' new series is off to an excellent start. don't expect him to radically re-think the formula - his books don't vary much from one to the next. as usual, the characters are believably rendered. many of them are pseudo-self-portraits (e.g. the young student spero befriends); others are convincingly complex adversaries. the story is intelligent but never academic, there's plenty of action and you'll blow through the whole ordeal in a matter of days. maybe even hours if you read quicker than me.

in addition, the cut offers a refreshingly un-hysterical study of a damaged iraq war veteran. more and more, i think pelecanos is precisely the kind of author that should tackle this sort of subject matter. having read a half-dozen or so of his books by now, i gather that he's not exactly a bush-loving neocon, but the cut circumvents lectures about foreign policy in favor of a respectful look at the reasons people choose to serve, and the effects that service has on them.

spero lucas emerges as a more cautious and morally ambiguous update on terry quinn from the "derek strange" novels. unlike terry, spero spent his formative years raiding homes in fallujah. this gives him a nuanced mix of confidence, alertness, loyalty, anxiety and bloodlust, which pelecanos uses to establish a slightly darker tone than the earlier series. there's no over-arching critique of the war on terror (or war in general) in the cut, but the character is crafted in such a way that its fog kinda hangs over him. obviously, the bush years aren't too far behind us, and it takes a very nuanced author to tackle them without resorting to contrived soap-boxing (for example, please refer to virtually everything created in response to "the events of september 11th"). pelecanos - with his pulpy, no-bullshit panache - makes it seem easy.
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