Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bookish Thoughts: The Cut by George Pelecanos

The Cut by George Pelecanos
Regan Arthur Books, 2011
Crime Fiction; 304 pgs

From the Publisher:
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?
When I think of George Pelecanos, I think atmosphere. I think character driven. I know that when I pick up one of his novels, I will likely be in for a story full of angst and ethical questions. The Cut had all of these things to varying degrees.

The author wrote occasionally for one of my all time favorite shows, The Wire, and so I expect a lot from him when I crack open one of his books. Given that this was also an Independent Literary Award short-listed nominee for the Mystery category . . . Well, he had a lot to live up to with The Cut.

Pelecanos captured the underbelly of Washington D.C. and his characters quite well. Spero Lucas is a character who doesn't always play by the rules as we know them, but he's definitely the kind of man you'd want on your side if ever you find yourself in trouble. He is quick on his feet both physically and mentally and is ever persistent. I felt like I was right there on the streets with Spero (very glad he was by my side--he deals with some shady characters!), where survival can be a matter of a split second decision. As is common with his novels, the author raises questions about morality and how easy it could be to cross the line given the circumstances.

I didn't quite like The Cut as much as I did The Night Gardener which I read by him years ago. The characters, both the good and the bad guys, in the older book were much more fleshed out. Whereas The Night Gardener was much more character driven, I found The Cut to be spurred on more by the plot.

The Cut is dark and at times violent. It is well written and I can see why it made the Indie Lit Awards short list.

You can learn more about George Pelecanos and his books on the author's website.

Source: I personally purchased an e-copy of this book for review.

© 2012, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. Wasn't The Night Gardener wonderful? Well, wonderful in a dark and twisted way. After I finished it I thought "that is exactly what a murder mystery should be". I didn't pursue his backlist after that though. I was afraid none of his others would be as good!

  2. I haven't read anything by Pelecanos, but this sounds rather interesting and thrilling. I love it when there is seediness and grit in the thrillers that I read, and I think I would really like this one. Fantastic review today!

  3. I really liked this book and the character of Spero. It made me really watch my neighbors' porches if they have a package on them.

  4. I've only read one Pelacanos and I didn't really care for it. I'm sorry you didn't like this one as much as you've liked others, but maybe I should read The Night Gardener!

  5. I have one of this author's other books on my shelves but I've yet to give him a try. Looks like I should try one of his other books first. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts on this one!!

  6. I was so happy to see that you reviewed this book. I am a big fan of Pelecanos first by way of The Wire and then 2 of his books one of which was The Night Gardener. I read a couple of reviews of this book and they were rather lukewarm. I knew I would get a solid, candid review from you and you know the mystery/thriller genre so I was wondering what your thoughts were. And now I'll be listing this on my tbr. It's too bad it isn't as good as The Night Gardener but it still sounds worth reading.
    Thank you Wendy! :o)

  7. I have one of his books and reading your post makes me think it should be shifted higher on the TBR list. Thank you for your post.

  8. I'm interested in this one and The Night Gardener.

  9. I read one of his books and enjoyed it. This may be one to go to some time when I'm browsing the library shelves!!


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