I Can’t Believe I Hadn’t Read This: THE CUT by George Pelecanos

~Post by Chris Mattix

Welcome to a new column! Here at MysteryPeople we are always trying to stay as current as possible in order to bring you, dear reader, the best reads crime fiction has to offer. While we are constantly nose-deep in new mysteries, we sometimes miss a few books. The goal of this new column to is highlight books that somehow fell through the cracks. To inaugurate this lovely little column I would like to discuss a book that I should have read two years ago, The Cut by George Pelecanos.

The Cut is the beginning of a new series for Pelecanos that centers around Spero Lucas, a former soldier who now works in the recovery business for a D.C. lawyer. If you have read any Pelecanos in the past then you know how well he constructs his characters, and Spero Lucas is easily his greatest creation. Lucas is a very layered character who walks a fine line between white-hat-wearing righteousness and opportunistic amorality. He knows the difference between right and wrong, but understands that sometimes black and white bleed together.

In The Cut Lucas takes a job from an imprisoned weed dealer. His task is to recover the dealer’s stolen contraband and return it. It sounds like a simple job at first, but Lucas soon realizes that things are not what they seem, and his digging takes him deep into the nest of Ricardo Holley, a deviant former cop with a penchant for drugs, booze, women, and guns.

The Cut is everything I look for in a great crime novel. It’s fast-paced, violent, stylistically unique, and never boring. As a huge fan of HBO’s The Wire (for which Pelecanos was a producer and writer) I can’t believe I didn’t pick this book up sooner. Pelecanos’ writing style keeps your eyes locked to the page, even when very little is happening by way of plot development. It’s the kind of sincere and memorable storytelling that lodges itself into your brain. I finished The Cut three days ago and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

In my opinion, The Cut is a crime novel that should be required reading. It elevates the genre while staying true to its roots, and it peppers the pages with powerful insight and social commentary. If you are like me and slept on this gem, it is time for reparations. Get up. No, seriously get up. Get in your car, drive to BookPeople and buy this book. I guarantee that after five pages you too will say “I can’t believe I haven’t read this!”

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