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The Cut (Spero Lucas) Hardcover – August 29, 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 129 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Spero Lucas Series

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Editorial Reviews


As you'd expect from a writer with credit for both The Wire and Treme, Pelecanos expertly renders the streets of the US capital and succeeds where many have failed of late: creating a fully formed antihero whom readers will want to meet again. SHORTLIST Pelecanos is incapable of writing a book that isn't gripping, and the dialogue is of a brilliance comparable only with Elmore Leonard and George V Higgins. THE TIMES a bloody, brooding thriller of rare authenticity. -- Mark Sanderson EVENING STANDARD expertly crafted writing, pop-culture references ... and a plot that keeps twisting to the dramatic finale. SHORTLIST This is gold-standard character-driven crime writing that few will ever match. I can't wait for the sequel. -- Christopher Fowler FINANCIAL TIMES Pelecanos keeps readers on their toes with with a series of twists that confound stereotypes, drilling the plot along with breakneck prose, sassy dialogue and even shifting into a serious analysis at modern society in all its flawed glory. Exceptional. THE BIG ISSUE The language, like the action, is brutal, fast and hard ... Stephen King describes Pelecanos as 'perhaps the greatest living crime writer' and The Cut certainly marks him out as a name to watch. In fact, he may just come to give Ellroy and Leonard a run for their money in the hard-boiled stakes. DAILY MAIL Pelecanos, heir to Elmore Leonard's throne, has landed another short, sparkling masterpiece. What's more, The Cut is just the beginning of a planned series for tough, streetwise, mother's boy Spero Lucas. THE MIRROR George Pelecanos writes hard-boiled fiction with heart SUNDAY TELEGRAPH He's best known for writing acclaimed US TV show The Wire. But George Pelecanos has spent many years penning brilliant but under-appreciated crime novels set in Washington DC ... the dialogue, characters and sense of location are superb. Pelecanos is a Cut above the rest. -- Natasha Harding THE SUN --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

George Pelecanos is the author of several highly praised and bestselling novels, including The Cut, What It Was, The Way Home, The Turnaround, and The Night Gardener. He is also an independent-film producer, an essayist, and the recipient of numerous international writing awards. He was a producer and Emmy-nominated writer for The Wire and currently writes for the acclaimed HBO series Treme. He lives in Maryland.

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Product Details

  • Series: Spero Lucas
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books; 1 edition (August 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316078425
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316078429
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #336,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I've been reading Pelecanos's books for almost 20 years now, and this latest hits all the marks fans of his have to come to love and expect: cars, music, food, movies, crime, the importance of family and fathers, the struggles of young men to become men, and, of course, a street-level view of everyday Washington, D.C. So, if you've previously read and enjoyed his work, this one should be just as satisfying. And if you're a newcomer, this is a fine place to start.

This book introduces a new protagonist, Spero Lucas, the adopted son of a Greek-American family who has returned to D.C. after years as a soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pelecanos has touched upon the world of veterans in other books, but this is the first to feature one as the main character. Coincidentally, the last book I read before this was Night Dogs, a blistering police novel about a Vietnam veteran cop in mid-'70s Portland. Its portrait of the struggle of a Vietnam vet to adapt to life outside the war (based heavily on the author's own experiences as a cop) gives great insight into the ways going to war can change people forever, and not for the better.

Here, Pelecanos tackles the same dilemma facing many young people coming back home from America's warzones. Spero spent his youth to the military, and now he's in his late-20s, somewhat adrift in civilian society. He's smart, but has no interest in going to college, and spends his days, biking, kayaking, and working as an unlicensed investigator for a criminal defense attorney at the princely wage of $15/hour.
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Format: Hardcover
I have read all of Pelecanos' prior books and liked or loved all of them. The Cut, sadly, is is his most diappointing book in over a decade, if not ever. His new character, Spero Lucas, lacks the interest and complexity of his prior characters--he is simply another version of Lee Child's superhuman hero, Jack Reacher, with only a black foster brother to give him a non-generic characteristic. Like Reacher, he is a war vet, with a rock hard body, disdain for 9-5 jobs, a yen for aggression and supernatural appeal to women. Early on, Lucas meets a gorgeous law student in an office and she instantly agrees to sleep with him. A few pages later, he meets an attractive lawyer on her porch and--surprise!--she has instant sex with him. Could it be any more repetitive? Sadly, yes--a few pages after that, a prison guard comes on to him.

The plot is predictable and much more superficial than Pelecanos' earlier work. The constant recitals of song titles, urban woes and restaurant specialties seem rote.

Apparently, there will be other Lucas books--I fear Pelecanos has been seduced by the riches showered on Lee Child.

What a shame.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
George Pelecanos' novel The Cut introduces what is likely to be a new and important series character: Spero Lucas. Adopted into a Greek family with mixed-race siblings, Spero has recently returned from Iraq. He has set up an unlicensed agency in which he recovers stolen or lost goods, taking a 40% cut. His current employer is a Washington defense lawyer. A heavy chunk of marijuana has gone missing and the lawyer, who represents the drug dealer, wants Spero to find it. In the meantime, Spero is bedding the lawyer's intern and trying to keep his life on track. He hasn't gone to college, but he's a reader and a serious man and he knows metropolitan Washington as well as . . . well, as well as George Pelecanos, which is to say he knows it as well as Mike Davis knows L.A. or Richard Daley knew Chicago.

Spero's assignment quickly goes to hell as people die unexpectedly. He finds himself up against some nasty freelancers with an insider at the police department and an array of heavy weaponry. Spero calls on some of his old Marine buddies for help but basically he's on his own--outnumbered and outgunned.

The writing is pure Pelecanos: lean, spare, stark, with a commanding sense of place and a vision of experience that reminds us of what realism is all about. Spero is an attractive character, capable of sustaining an extended series. Since he is an investigator and since he is in it for the long haul the atmospherics are more Chandlerian than Sophoclean and Washington is more of a series of echoes of cultural resonance than the waste land that Pelecanos often describes.

The plot moves right along and there is just enough sex, drugs, violence and bluesy rock to sustain interest without distracting us from the task at hand: getting Spero's cut.

This is a significant book. Don't miss it.
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Format: Hardcover
Pelecanos brings a certain poetry, a certain literary touch to the crime fiction genre.

The Cut is no exception. Pelecanos understands the genre like Monet understood paint and landscape. He instinctively knows which clichés, which `norms' of the genre will work and which to avoid to maintain that literary height. First, the ones he uses and uses oh, so well; Spero Lucas is, like many protagonists of crime fiction, a war veteran. He served as a Marine in Iraq and was an obvious man of action choosing to be the first in the door at `clearing houses' in the streets of Fallujah. Secondly, like Sam Spade or Philip Marlow, Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder or Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch, Spero is a loner.

He also maintains that ambiguous place between the cops and the criminals and has his own set of values based in common sense and not writ in stone laws. And probably most important, Pelecanos' subject matter is very socially aware and pertinent in making some social issues a part of the back story i.e. a feeling of detachment of returning vets, how disabled vets get lost in society, the complicated racial relations of our nations capital, which in and of itself is a microcosm of the nation as a whole. Even marijuana laws and the duplicity and corruption of law enforcement lends itself to make the story more than realistic.

After returning from Iraq, Spero wasn't drawn to college not being able to see himself wearing a suit and tie or bound to a desk and office. He drifted into investigative work employing a keen sense of observation that allowed him to survive the war. He writes and diagrams everything he sees in a moleskin note book or takes endless photos with his iPhone - the new gun for the 21st century detective.
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