George Pelecanos begins another series with The Cut, introducing new protagonist Spero Lucas, a 29-year-old Iraq War veteran who does investigations for a D.C. defense attorney. One of the attorney’s clients, a drug dealer, hires Lucas to find and retrieve his stolen shipments of marijuana. The job seems standard fare at first, with Lucas canvassing neighborhoods and looking for witnesses. But then a double murder occurs, and Lucas finds he needs all the warrior skills he learned while fighting in Fallujah to go up against his formidable opponents.
Lucas is an appealing lead, made more so by his contradictions. He’s a tough guy who regularly dines with his mother. He has an iPhone but likes reading the print version of the newspaper. He may have witnessed horrors in Iraq but can be refreshingly naïve when it comes to women. And he can work on both sides of the law, as long as the job pays well.
Pelecanos has the amazing ability to cut to the heart of something in very few words. Witness the following: “They kissed standing up in her living room. Her mouth was made for it.” Are any more words necessary to describe how perfect the kiss is? As always, the author has a sharp ear for dialogue, giving Lucas witty banter with his brother Leo, and rarely relying on tags and character attribution to indicate who’s talking in any given scene. The dialogue does get too expository at times, but the pace is fast enough that those instances can be overlooked. Readers will want to add The Cut to their Pelecanos collections, and it’s good to know Lucas will be back to fight another day.
Nerd verdict: Both hero and writing are sharp in Cut