George Pelecanos has written the sequel to “The Cut,” a new mystery/thriller series about a young veteran named Spero Lucas who solves crimes and helps his clients in modern-day DC. In my last post about Spero, I went on and on about how really I just wanted to live Spero’s life, knocking around DC, solving crimes with drama and suspense, drinking good beer, listening to good music and enjoying the company of attractive women.
Well, look, I’m not saying I still don’t want to be Spero Lucas, but Pelecanos has given us a little darker story about our protagonist. He’s grappling with questions about his violent streak and his willingness to kill. There’s some post-war trauma in the kid, and Pelecanos is teasing it out, probably just to add to Spero’s man of mystery profile. So the novel is less heroic than I remember the last, as Spero is more openly wrestling with his demons.
We’ve got a new woman in the mix here, someone he meets from time to time in a boutique hotel for a Barolo and a roll in the sheets. He falls for her and though you keep waiting for her story to play out in a way central to the plot of the mystery, it doesn’t really happen. It’s just sex, his lust, and another example of how he continues to want things he can’t have. (She’s married.)
Pelecanos’ writing is pulpy and fun, and so some of it is preposterous. But his description of the final fight scenes was excellent–as good of a description of a fight as I’ve read. Really good stuff. His dialogue is hip and cool, and so that makes the book a terrific escape. There is an incredible amount of detail about what wine is being drunk, what music is being listened to, and what clothes are being worn. Jesus, the clothes. Remember in the “Girl Who…” series where Larsson writes three pages about the girls trip to Ikea? We’ve got a little of that going on here with the attention to Spero’s shorts, American Apparel t-shirts, and other accessories. But, you are there with the characters because of this detail, and like watching a good TV show (something Pelecanos knows something about), the clothes, music, and trends add to the story.
The plot is entertaining–a missing piece of art and a band of thieves who con and steal from innocents. It made for a good yarn.
There’s a little less of Spero’s family in this story, though they appear from time to time. I have a feeling future books will expand their story.
I like this series, obviously. It’s a perfect example of why this kind of writing is escape fiction. For a few hours last Sunday, I was hanging out with Spero Lucas, or maybe I was Spero Lucas, in my mind, and it was great fun.
Thanks for reading.