Some writers have the ability to draw great characters; vivid portraits of the players who drive storylines. Others have the ability to paint great settings; the gritty underbellies of inner cities, the wide open spaces of suburban sprawl or even the tumbledown backwoods homestead.
Then there is the rare writer, who has the ability to capture not only great characters and locations but also the feel and the vibe that is the real heartbeat of the story. Think Elmore Leonard cool.
Or George Pelecanos.
His latest, The Cut, has its own cool vibe; a real, lived in, comfortable style. When Pelecanos writes about Washington, DC and surrounding communities, his economy of words reads as if he is leading you through a familiar, easy-going, but edgy hood.
Pelecanos’ characters, is this case, “investigator” Spero Lucas brings his own rhythm to the pacing of the story. The fact that the former Marine grooves to cool reggae and is even known to mix in a little percussive DC go go music and kick it old school, just seem to work with this complex, multi-layered character.
Lucas does his thing, working more like a modern day tracker, both people and things, more so than a typical fictional PI. The concept is simple; Lucas agrees to track down a clients stolen item in exchange for a 40% piece of the action…The Cut.
In this instance, the client is a drug dealer facing trial, the item are a series of missing FEDEXed drug shipments. Lucas tracks down the cash from the sale of the goods, takes his cuts and passes along the rest. And that’s where the story takes an interesting turn.
Pelecanos attracted a legion of new fans for his writing and producing of the HBO Series, The Wire; those fans and those of his Derek Strange series will want to submerge themselves in this very quick read.