Sunday, 21 September 2014

The Cut - George Pelecanos

As usual, I'm reading the series the wrong way round.  This is the second Spero Lucas novel I've read in the last month or so, but this is his debut.  Luckily, Pelecanos is such a good writer that it makes no difference which way you read them.

Anyway Afghan vet and retriever of lost property Spero is asked by hippie defence lawyer Tom Petersen to find evidence to help the case of an underage driver who has crashed and killed his friend.   Success leads him to the boy's father, another of Petersen's clients, awaiting trial for dealing marijuana.  Here Pelecanos joins his friend and colleague David Simon's crusade to show the stupidity of America's War on Drugs - filling up prisons with nonviolent offenders.

Anyway, someone is stealing the dealer's deliveries and he asks Spero to recover the goods for his customary forty percent cut.  From this point on the ripples of the conspiracy spread wider and wider and the violence ratchets remorselessly up.

The Derek Strange series never really hooked me (Strange gets a witty nod in The Cut, almost an acknowledgement of shared DNA) but I find Spero Lucas properly compelling.  Perhaps it's the way he draws in his former comrades, now shattered one way or another.  The Afghan conflict, right or wrong, adds depth and tone which really chimes with me.

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