By George Pelecanos
George Pelecanos presents a new main character in The Cut. His name is Spero Lucas and is the adopted son of Greek parents and an Iraqi war veteran. He lives in his native Washington, D.C. and does private investigator work for an attorney and often takes jobs on the side finding lost objects and receiving a percentage of the recovered property as his “cut.” Spero is a complicated character. He is very intelligent as displayed by his reading list, but has no interest in formal education. He is not a very religious man, but follows the customs of his adopted Greek Orthodox family. He is violent in his professional life but can be very caring and gentle in his personal life. He doesn’t seem overly burdened by his war experiences, but remains very loyal to his fellow veterans. He is, in a word, unique.
In this novel, Spero is hired by Anwan Hawkins, a currently incarcerated drug dealer who is running his business from within the D.C. jail. Anwan’s has had several bulk deliveries of marijuana stolen and he wants them back. These boxes are delivered by UPS to legitimate residential addresses, unbeknownst to the people living there who are usually at work during the day. They are tracked via the internet and then picked up by two of Anwan’s workers, Tavon Lynch and Edwin Davis. Several of these deliveries have been hijacked and Anwan hires Spero to figure out who stole the product and to retrieve it or the cash it represents.
Spero begins by interviewing Tavon and Edwin and surveilling the neighborhoods of the deliveries. He interviews neighbors and finds one teen who was skipping school and saw the UPS box being pilfered. This witness implicates Tavon and Edwin as well as a metropolitan police officer. The rest of the story involves Spero digging into and finding out the police who are involved and eventually he uncovers a drug and illegal arms operation running out of an auto body shop in suburban Maryland.
Pelecanos peppers The Cut with his encyclopedic knowledge of Washington, D.C. Another trademark Pelecanos touch is the inclusion of multiple food and diner references as well as many musical citations. These spicey additions add to an already entertaining story. As usual, this author has crafted a dark view of modern urban living. I hope that the Spero Lucas series has a long run and look forward to the next installment.