Monday, December 5, 2011

Review: The Cut

Summary: 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 forty 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) -- Reagan Arthur

It seems like I've been reading mainly cozies for my Mystery Mondays feature. It's probably because they are light and easy reads for me and I can always seem to fit one into my hectic schedule. However, if I'm being entirely honest, one of the reasons I started challenging myself to read a mystery a week is because I enjoy crime novels and thrillers so much. So it's with great pleasure that I finally had the chance to sit down and read THE CUT by George Pelecanos. A few years ago, I read my first Pelecanos book and I was blown away by his writing as well as the overall intensity of the story.

When I pick up a book and have high expectations, I often find that I'm disappointed. But that definitely wasn't the case with THE CUT. This book was encompassed everything that I've come to appreciate about Mr. Pelecanos and story-telling abilities. THE CUT was a book that I didn't want to put down despite knowing that I had so much I needed to do to get ready for the holidays. It was gripping and gritty and I had was most definitely surprised by the twist at the end. Overall, it was a very entertaining read.

I could spend some time analyzing the plot of THE CUT because I was intrigued by the story, but I think it's enough to say that it's an interesting mystery with enough twists and turns to keep most readers interested. I'd rather focus on what really stood out to me about THE CUT -- and that is Mr. Pelecanos' writing. He is a marvelous writer and he truly knows how to create memorable (and very real) characters like Spero Lucas. I was so drawn to Lucas. He was far from perfect, but he was extremely likable; and I loved how complex he was. Lucas was a veteran of the war in Iraq who now does private investigations. He was obviously affected by what he saw in Iraq as well as the loss of his father, and I sense that he is battling quite a few of his own demons. He was so incredibly real and so honest that I couldn't help but root for him. Of course, it doesn't hurt that he's kind of a bad ass too!

In addition to creating a terrific story and main character, Mr. Pelecanos also does a remarkable job with the setting. THE CUT takes place in Washington, DC, and Mr. Pelecanos brings this city -- both the good and the bad parts of it -- to life. It is immediately apparent to any reader that he has an insider's understanding of the city, and I love how he intersperses both current and past history of the city and its residents into this novel.

Furthermore, I appreciated how he covered so many relevant issues in THE CUT. For example, he touches upon some important causes like urban crime, inner city schools, and the treatment of our veterans. I'm guessing that these things are near and dear to his heart, and I love that he uses his books as way to get the message out to his readers. I have to tell you, though, that I am deeply impressed that he can pull this off without appearing "preachy." I think it's a testament to his writing skills that he can make it work so well in his novels.

I enjoyed THE CUT and its main character Spero Lucas so much that I'm hoping that this is the beginning of a new series. I look forward to learning more about Lucas and his personal life as well as seeing where his investigations take him. Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


bermudaonion said...

I loved this book too. Spero is a fabulous character. I read this book is the start of a new series featuring him. I'm really excited about that!

Serena said...

I need to read these books by Pelecanos that are sitting on my shelf, though I don't have this one!

Nancy Ann Gazo said...

I'm just over a third of the way through this one, so far. Loving it. This is a book you want to take your time reading, to savor as long as possible!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I really want to read this. I think Pelecanos is an excellent writer!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I love Pelecanos. He is gritty and complex and is exactly what you would want in a mystery thriller. I have got to get my hands on this one.

Carol said...

I've only read one Pelecanos but I loved it. Sounds like I need to pick this one up.