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The Cut

By George Pelecanos

http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/features/georgepelecanos/

Plot

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.’

It’s a basic plot, but so are many of Pelecanos’. There’s nothing new here, but there’s nothing worth dismissing either.

Characters

Spero Lucas: 29, Marine who fought in Iraq. Investigator for a defense attorney. He was adopted by Greek parents. Low key. Intelligent. Respectful.

Troubled by his father’s death.

Anwan Hawkins – drug runner, thirty-something. Not a crime boss, not a gang boss, just does a low key business.

Larry Holley – Washington D.C. officer in Narcotics and Special Investigations. His ex cop father, who left when Larry was a child has returned and sucked Larry into illegal dealings. Larry, okay with the small time drug business, is upset when his father condones murder to take care of business.

They’re basic, but I don’t mean they’re flat. Without knowing quite how or why, I kind of understand the characters without really knowing them, or needing to know them too in depth. Pelecanos scrapes below the surface to show you a little of what’s underneath. Every good guy has little faults and every bad guy knows the potential consequences of his choices.

Dialogue

Basic, to the point. No long soliloquies or philosophizing.

Writing

If you’ve read Pelecanos before you know what to expect. Straight forward, no extraneous detail. The urban culture is presented as ‘It is what it is.’ He puts a lot of emphasis on music, food, alcohol, and books. The details are basic and not lavish. There’s no hype, no flash, no sensationalism, but with “The Cut” you don’t mind. If the protagonists from his stories all gathered in the same room, you’d find many similarities. 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.

My ranking:

Blue Belt