Spero Lucas has a new line of work. Since he returned home after serving in Iraq, he has been doing special investigations for a defense attorney. He's good at it, and he has carved out a niche: recovering stolen property, no questions asked. His cut is 40 percent.
A high-profile crime boss who has heard of Lucas's specialty hires him to find out who has been stealing from his operation. It's the biggest job Lucas has ever been offered, and he quickly gets a sense of what's going on. But before he can close in on what's been taken, he tangles with a world of men whose amorality and violence leave him reeling. Is any cut worth your family, your lover, your life?
Spero Lucas is George Pelecanos's greatest creation, a young man making his place in the world one battle and one mission at a time. The first in a new series of thrillers featuring Spero Lucas, The Cut is the latest confirmation of why George Pelecanos is "perhaps America's greatest living crime writer" (Stephen King).
©2011 George Pelecanos (P)2011 Hachette
A good old popcorn kinda story but with a new age kinda sensibility. We have a complex and unusual lead character to follow here. And, with crime fiction, I think if you can say you were in suspense, but intrigued, and entertained all at once, the novel is a success. I can say that here. And it is.The narrator, is perfectly suited to the material. He takes us on this journey and subtly navigates along with us through the plot twists and turns. Really great work! Really enjoyable! Highly recommended!!!
I happened to listen to this book after just failing to finish a disappointing audible download. This was just what I was looking for: quick, smart, and entertaining. I was into the story from the get go, and REALLY enjoyed it.
I live in the DC area and loved the authentic, DC-centric setting. Pelecanos doesn't just name drop all of the local bars, streets, schools, etc; he actually gets them right. He even nails the changing atmosphere of the city today. The narrator is an excellent, giving easily recognizable and distinct voices to the characters.
As to the story, the Spero Lucas character is a good one, as is his interesting family and background. I'll be looking forward to checking out the next book.
Pellecanos' entry into this growing genre - Iraq or Afghanistan vets returning to the US - is excellent. Don Winslow's "Savages" was another example of this type of novel.
The moral relativism, the tension between the brothers and the unforeseen consequences of one bad decision are themes well explored.
It is not Jack Reacher, although both protagonists were in the military. If anything it reminds me of the excellent movie "Four Brothers."
I look forward to the next in this series.
George Pelecanos knows Washington, D.C. Great story - exciting - a lot of my friends feel he is brutal/ethnic/whatever just writes a good engaging story. The narrator Dion Graham makes one feel out of his mouth to ..ears.
Pelecanos' characters are always good - believable, lively, unpredictable.
Good reading. Best readers are those who do such a good job you don't notive them, and Mr. Graham met that criterion.
I really liked this - good blend between crime solving, earning a living and dealing with family problems. very believable characters and a good plot line.
George Pelecanos is a terrific writer, and this novel is an outstanding example of his work. Readers like me who live in the D.C. area may have extra reasons to enjoy his fiction, because it offers an intensely personal peek into a variety of Washington-area locales. Only a few of these are likely to be well known, even to long-time residents. Heck, I also enjoy closely observed fiction about cities I know much less well, such as L.A. and New York. My suspicion is that readers who like close-up and realistic introductions to city jails, law offices, neighborhoods on the upswing, and obscure neighborhoods on the road to abandonment will be fascinated by Pelecanos's presentation of D.C.
The story is an interesting one. Much of its interest flows out of the compelling and believable characters Pelecanos creates. Many of the characters occupy a grey area between lawlessness and loyalty to a kind of basically moral code. A principal character is drawn, through his lawful but somewhat shady profession, into D.C.'s drug trade. A fairly straightforward recovery job turns complicated when murder intrudes. If other readers are like me they will care about the sometimes unlikeable characters who get killed or threatened as a result of the main character's persistence.
The narrator, Dion Graham, does a terrific job with the range of voices in Pelecanos's Washington. As is usual in Pelecanos stories, we meet all kinds of folks, both African-American and white, who will be recognizable to long-time D.C. residents. The narrator speaks easily and without condescension all of the voices in this wonderful novel.
Complex young anti-hero exuding sex appeal unafraid to confront the baddest of bad
Don't want to spoil it
Abilty to pull off inner DC dialects; ability to personify Spero's coolness flawlessly
Yes, but wouldn't let myself as it so infrequent you get a book you want to savor
What a refreshing change....more please
What a wonderful book. Great tone, characters, dialogue and I love the narrator. His silky slides into other voices are amazing. Each one is believable. My problem remains a big one, however. The architecture of the story is so predictable.
Once the story starts to talk up a character, such as, a young man in high school full of promise, we know he's going down. Another one: the brave and optimistic Iraq war vet, hobbling along on a metal leg and bringing realistic light into bad situations. Boom for him. And the fight between brothers? Saw it coming chapters back. Saw the misunderstanding.
Haven't finished and don't believe I will. For all the admirable qualities George Pelecanos possesses as a writer, there's something here I just don't buy. His vision of struggling urban life has a cartoon quality. He's bringing the comics to life and not quite able to shed the banality at the center of his enterprise. I don't believe him. He quotes Elmore Leonard, but he is far, far from Elmore Leonard.
Great voice and strong narration, but he struggles with some of the accents here.
The good news here is that Pelecanos can write. He’s a pro as I know from this, another novel or two, and his rock-solid reputation. He’s one of the top-tier noir guys going. The signs of that come early here: he’s got the Elmore Leonard capacity for leaving out the parts people want to skip, and he’s got a knack for establishing compelling aspects of character in a few slick sentences.
The bad news is that this feels, from the start, like a bid for a successful series. Spero Lucas is a striking character. He’s proud of the Greek heritage he took from his adoptive family, but he’s also bound by the fact of his dark skin. He’s a full brother to Leo, but they’re on opposite sides of the business of bettering their community; Leo’s an idealistic teacher and Spero is a private investigator who’s willing to work with questionable characters. Spero’s young, handsome and dealing with his demons from the Iraq war. And there’s the unresolved business of his now widowed mother.
My point isn’t that all that’s bad – in fact, the premise of an Iraq vet P.I. is timely and promising – but that it has the feel of a bigger plan. It’s not just Spero’s relationship with his mother that’s unresolved; everything is. We get invited into his busy and sprawling life, and we don’t really get shown the exit. Yeah, the particular crime gets resolved, but we’re left ‘teased’ with the idea that there’s more to come in Spero’s story.
That’s not necessarily Pelecanos’s fault; it’s his job after all to get a series rolling. I just can’t help feeling that, for all the excellent series we’ve seen in noir, that there’s something un-noir, un-hardboiled to them. I don’t believe in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because I think rock is always implicitly anti-institutional; so an institution celebrating that is either self-consciously ironic or just plain wrong. In the same way, I think noir is about a glimpse into a dark corner of a dark scene. Repeated glimpses mean, eventually, fuller illumination. They mean a kind of well-lit noir – and that sounds like an oxymoron to me.
Anyway, I did enjoy this – and I have enjoyed some series, most of all Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins stories – but I can’t help feeling there’s better Pelecanos elsewhere. What we get of Spero’s Iraq history is compelling, and I like the Greek flavor, too. There’s a good mystery with a clever enough twist, but there’s also a gratuitous change of heart by one of the antagonists. That is, there’s a softness in the heart of what otherwise feels hard.
My favorite part here is undoubtedly the beginning, when Pelecanos writes with a crisp enthusiasm in his new detective’s world. Once he settles into the demands of widening that world, once he telegraphs that we’re in for a whole raft of sequels, I start to think maybe this is less a matter of excellence and more a matter of competence.
"Great series character brought to life by Graham"
The Cut is atmospheric, compelling and effective.
The stomach sinking feeling generated when the antagonist plots his revenge stood out for me.
Dion Graham is an excellent narrator and a strong performer. This is not his first work on a Pelecanos book and he maintains his consistently high standard here. I have also
I found the characterisation of Spero Lucas very involving. I was moved by his struggle between seeking out an adrenaline thrill and doing the right thing.
Pelecanos remains my favourite author of the moment. I am always suckered by his sense of place, detailed characterisation and the tight inevitability of his plotting. This book remains strong on all three of those fronts. I have to say that I enjoyed it a little more on re-reading. In part because I found it easier to get inside the mind of Spero Lucas the second time around. Spero is the protagonist of this one, and is set to be a recurring lead character in the vein of past Pelecanos leads Nick Stefanos, Karras and Clay and Strange and Quinn. I'm excited to see Pelecanos returning to serialised work after a run of excellent one off novels.
Spero is another slightly different take on the investigator. His day job is working for defence attorneys and his sideline is in recovering stolen goods for a 40% cut. He is a young army veteran still enamoured with the adrenaline rush of violent action. His career and his thrill seeking puts him in morally ambiguous territory that lends the book a modern noir edge. In this one Spero takes a side job recovering stolen marijuana shipments for an imprisoned dealer and finds himself going head to head with a group of gun runners who are moving in on the business.
Scattered amongst this investigative arc are Spero's relationships with his fellow veterans and his adoptive family. His grief at having lost his adoptive father and his close relationship with his brother are both affecting and well drawn. Pelecanos is the patriarch of an adoptive family himself and his insight translates well into his characterisation here.
I thoroughly recommend this audio book version which is read by The Wire alumni Dion Graham (he played recurring character Rupert Bond on the show) who has done fine work on several previous Pelecanos audio books. If you've not read any Pelecanos before then this is a fine place to start although one of the completed series might be more satisfying to burn through. If you already know the author then this is another fine work that is well worth your time.
"Tough guy stuff. Excellently read."
Having enjoyed the Pelecanos books I read some years ago, I looked forward to this new audiobook, but was disappointed. Although the book is beautifully narrated and flows well, I found the "hero", Spiro Lucas, to be an unappealing figure as, towards the end, the book descends into a lot of brutal violence.
As always Pelecanos is very good on hip street talk and references, but I did find the constant obsession on brands, labels on clothes, street names, and the frequent descriptions of physique and food, rather tedious and a little fetishistic.
Lucas is an ex-Marine, Iraq veteran, now unofficial and quite inept (his vet. buddies doing most of the investigative work) private investigator. This tough guy seems to have few qualms about having killed some civilians in his earlier life. Collateral damage. And this heartlessness spills over into "The Cut" and is curiously mixed with some sentimentality about "family" etc. It is also a little cliched that any attractive woman is so drawn to our macho hero that she is unable to resist sliding into bed with him. Maybe I misremembered G.P.'s earlier books, but I had thought them subtler than this one.
In The Cut's favour is the terrific narration by Dion Graham which effortlessly distinguishes between characters with a range of accents. The book is also smoothly written, as you would expect from George Pelecanos, but I found the story and main characters to be lacking in depth and any genuine warmth. Pity.
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