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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Struggling with Violence!
In THE CUT Pelecanos vividly describes not only the struggle of a returning vet coming to terms with rejoining society, but that of young men in the city in general trying to make a living whilst avoiding crime and violence. The writing is in his usual style that uses little adverbs or descriptive prose, but somehow manages to build up the picture for the reader through...
Published on 7 Sep 2011 by J.C.Coles

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my Cup of Tea
Book 1, in the Spero Lucas series

This book sets off a new series for George Pelecanos and my first experience with the author. It features Spero Lucas, a 29 year old veteran of the Iraq War, a tough guy on the outside and tender in the inside trying to make a living as a freelance private investigator, wanders the most dangerous blocks of Washington D.C., eats...
Published 19 months ago by Toni Osborne


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Struggling with Violence!, 7 Sep 2011
In THE CUT Pelecanos vividly describes not only the struggle of a returning vet coming to terms with rejoining society, but that of young men in the city in general trying to make a living whilst avoiding crime and violence. The writing is in his usual style that uses little adverbs or descriptive prose, but somehow manages to build up the picture for the reader through the actions and reactions of the main characters. The street life and action scenes are very realistic and the main character both believable in his flawed or guiltless motivation and likeable as a result.

Spero Lucas is a tough Iraq veteran who keeps himself super-fit and on return to Washington finds work with a disreputable defence attorney. Spero is trying to find direction on civvy street and whilst figuring this out uses his talents to recover debts for Tom Peterson's clients. Things get heavy when he is hired to protect drop money for a dangerous crime boss (like there's any other kind) and the bag-men are hit and he becomes chief suspect. Lucas uses his military training to avoid his pursuers and gather forces whilst trying to figure out who is behind it all.

Another great read from Pelecanos that has left me eager for the next!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fallujah, Half Smokes and Black Uhuru., 31 Aug 2011
By 
A. Miles (Al Khor, Qatar) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This shortish novel introduces Mr. Pelecanos' new character, Iraq veteran turned private investigator Spero Lucas. He's somewhat more of a man of action than Pelecanos more downbeat heroes -this is indicated in a neat bit of metafiction within a subplot set in an English Literature class, when the students stop reading Elmore Leonard and start on the hardboiled Donald E. Westlake - but otherwise this novel is everything we've come to expect from the author - a tightly plotted procedural, the working class DC setting, exhaustively detailed descriptions of clothes, food and cars, and of course the musical backdrop, Spero being a 70s reggae fan.

A justified criticism of Pelecanos work, I think, is that his heroes are all rather similiar. Like their author, their all deeply into pop culture, (often to a somewhat unlikely degree) fond of eating'half smokes' (whatever they are) at Greek cafes, have issues with their Fathers, etc. I'm not sure that Spero is different enough from Nick Stefanos to have been worthwhile creating, to be honest. But at least, as he's not an alcoholic, we're spared Pelecanos constant moralisising on that score (Though Spero's Mum has four glasses of wine on a Saturday night in order that Pelecanos can have a little tut-tut).

But I digress. Pelecanos has never written a bad novel, and 'The Cut' whilst not one of his very best, is certainly up there with the rest of his output. Recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars We all need some luck in life, 18 July 2014
By 
D. Norman "chippermoon@aol.com" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
THE CUT by George Pelecanos

A very unusual PI Spero Lucas. Doesnt confirm to the usual `image` of tough, (world weary) fictional Private Investigators. He seemed at times, rather nieve. But I half changed that impression, to one of learning the trade. I think in one or two instances in this story, luck was on his side. Yet we all need some of that in life. Possibily, because of the good years of his life, he spent serving in the Marines, Spero seems to adopt an almost juvenille attitude to the women in his life. Not so much an easy come, easy go, but always has his own pre-conceived values of how faithful, or not, he should be. He is loyal to his family. His deceased Father. His friends. And anyone that may have helped him. And his church. Where, in THE CUT, Spero visits often. He says a prayer for the deceased, several of which he has terminated himself. And I thought he was without fear. Until that last, really very good last page in the novel, where he confronts a very dark night time place. And walks right through it.
Its a good plot. Nothing too unusual for a novel of this genre. The action is limited, but there is always the threat of action. And, when it occurs, it is violent.
The story is peppered with street names and locations, in Washington DC, where the novel is set. I found it interesting to Google Earth some of these. Now I have read a Spero Lucas, and find myself oddly intruiged by his character, I shall read another.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes The Cut, 18 Feb 2014
This review is from: The Cut (Spero Lucas Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
The Cut is the first in a projected series of books, which centres around a new character called Spero Lucas; a former military man who is a private eye of sorts--although his speciality is that he finds things, and when he does, he requires a cut of forty percent. But, as with any book like this, Spero Lucas finds trouble and violence before anything else.

The plot is a straightforward one, with a couple minor twists and turns, but the book is strong as a whole. George Pelecanos is gradually progressing as a writer and improving with each of his novels. His prose and dialogue in places can be wooden, but only a line here and there--it's isolated rather than pandemic. His strength is in taking a scenario and injecting rawness and realness into it. His stories are vivid, realistic and atmospheric. There's almost a noir-ish feel to them.

The Cut isn't filled with overblown action sequences and cool plot twists and endless gunfights. It's tight and fast-paced and true.
And although it's not his best, it IS up there with some of his finer work. I recommend it if you want a gritty, street crime novel that's been wrapped in a convenient PI structure.

I'm looking forward to the next in the series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my Cup of Tea, 13 May 2013
Book 1, in the Spero Lucas series

This book sets off a new series for George Pelecanos and my first experience with the author. It features Spero Lucas, a 29 year old veteran of the Iraq War, a tough guy on the outside and tender in the inside trying to make a living as a freelance private investigator, wanders the most dangerous blocks of Washington D.C., eats at its tastiest restaurant and drinks at all the local bars. He also does side jobs finding lost and stolen property that the official authorities wouldn't bother to look for or retrieve for the owners for the arbitrarily fee of 40%.

The story opens slowly and keeps that pace throughout the mystery. Lucas is hired by Tom Patersen, a criminal defense attorney he works for on regular bases, to look into the case of a couple of kids arrested for stealing a fancy car. Armed with a pen, a notebook, a smartphone and a gun without a serial number Lucas sets up to clear their names. He gets them off and subsequently gets into the good graces of the father of one, Anwan Hawkins, a noted drug dealer up on trafficking charges. Lucas agrees to also help him and find what has happened with a drug shipment gone bad. As Lucas chases down the stolen drugs and navigates through D.C. violent underbelly and inevitably gets tangle up in a world of thieves, gangsters, crooked cops and hit men.

The story is sparsely written and has top notch dialogue but the plot and the characters never thoroughly grab my total attention and failed to keep me fully captivated. Lucas doesn't seem real, he never do recon of crime scenes, spends his time biking, kayaking, working out, drinking, eating and is every women cat's meow. The only action is when he starts fighting the bad guys and never is he in any short of danger. The story lack climatic effects expected in shootouts and by the time the last chapters come the twists become nonsensical and I lost interest and got extremely bored.....I was happy to see the end....this mystery was definitely not for me..
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent thriller, 11 Jun 2012
As we have come to expect from George Pelecanos, this is an excellent thriller, but one with a bit of a twist to it. Rather than being a standard police thriller, we are looking at events in the life of Spero Lucas, a Fallujah veteran who has made a niche for himself "finding things" and taking a cut of the proceeds. Spero lives in a rather amoral world where he does not ask too many questions about the legality of what he is being asked to find, so when he is asked to locate some marijuana that has gone missing, he is happy to oblige.
Predictably enough, there are bad guys involved, including petty dealers, would-be gangsters and a bent policeman, and there are of course innocent lives that are being threatened. The book manages to be exciting throughout, but also to have a very convincing cast of characters, both the bad guys and the rest - Spero's Greek family, his occasional girlfriends, his other friends, etc. And there is a very well written closing scene, with all the violence and excitement you would hope for.
The comparisons with Elmore Leonard are both obvious and justified - a very competent and rather unusual thriller.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Classic Pelecanos Joint, 26 Aug 2011
By 
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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. The work is interesting enough, but when one of the lawyer's clients makes a proposition to hire Spero for something on the shady side, Spero is lured in by both the money and the potential risk. And that, as Chapter 1 concludes is when, "the truck began to roll downhill."

What follows is a typically engaging Pelecanos story, full of procedural detail, taking the reader across the city. From a classroom at Cardozo High School (where Pelecanos has done some work with kids), to a VFW post, to eerie warehouses in the far reaches of the city, to the legendary Florida Avenue Grill, he is the foremost guide to the streets and people of Washington, D.C. I used to work right down the block from one area that features in the plot, and I drive and bike through the area Spero lives in on a daily basis, and Pelecanos has the sights and sounds dead on. Speaking of sounds, the music for this book is dub, which is a new territory for him, and if you want some good tunes to accompany your read of this book, pick up Augustus Pablo's King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown, Lee Perry's Blackboard Jungle Dub, or one of the "Heavweight" samplers from the Blood & Fire label.

I suppose the one minor criticism I'd make of the book is that the ending is much "cleaner" than I expected. Without spoiling anything, I will just say that I expected there to be some greater consequences or blowback than there proved to be. However, since this appears to be the launch of a new character and new series, it may be that Pelecanos is going to spend a little time building Spero's world up before heading down that road. A final warning: it's short, you can read it in about three hours, and it's going to leave you wanting more.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Cut, 28 Aug 2011
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This review is from: The Cut (Spero Lucas Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Spero Lucas is an Iraqi War vet who works angles and gathers information for a lawyer to aid in defense cases. When asked by said lawyer to meet with a client currently awaiting trial the job he is given is to recover some stolen drugs. Spero agrees, his cut of the proceeds being 40%. Thus starts George Pelecanos latest character driven book.

For this one he's gone back to basics and builds the plot nicely introducing Spero, his family and a small cast of associates. Things tick over fairly normally until the middle of the book where an incident happens that changes everything and the plot picks up speed until the bloody, bullet ridden finale.

The Cut reminded me more of the Derek Strange books more than his most recent stuff & while they aren't my favourite of his books (that award goes to his earlier Nick Stefanos trilogy and DC Quartet) they are still good solid reads. Always look forward to and always, always enjoy George Pelecanos' books. To my mind he hasn't written a bad one yet and that trend continues with The Cut.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Lazy and disappointing, 14 April 2014
By 
Mark Ferris - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Cut (Spero Lucas Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
This is a disappointing and lazy book. The central character never comes alive and is little more than a wish-fulfillment figure for the author. Twice Pelecanos references other authors: Elmore Leonard, for writing westerns disguised as thrillers, and Donald Westlake for his existential thrillers. I suspect he hopes we will feel this book is in the same league. Well, it isn't. The plot makes very little sense and is mainly a way for Spero Lucas to fill in the gaps in his life when he is not working out, eating or having sex. In spite of the dubious morality of his actions, Spero never exhibits any doubt or uncertainty, or, indeed, much in the way of self awareness, and as a consequence the book lacks moral complexity. Some of the writing stinks, with Pelecanos rather self-consciously using street slang and his usual shorthand of brands and songs to define character, and there is some pretty clunky dialogue. As Pelecanos' star has risen through his TV work so there has been a noticeable decline in his novels; apart from The Night Gardener he has written nothing of any great quality since Shame The Devil.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great, 18 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Cut (Spero Lucas Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Excellent as per all Pelecanos books, great characters & storyline, I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading more, highly recommended
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The Cut (Spero Lucas Book 1)
The Cut (Spero Lucas Book 1) by George Pelecanos
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