I am really digging this new Spero Lucas private detective series from George Pelecanos, dear readers. I mean, private dicks are nothing new for Pelecanos, the guy having given us the Nick Stefanos series early in his career and the excellent Strange/Quinn novels later on, but the Spero Lucas novels, beginning with The Cut and now The Double, have really shown the man upping his game as of late. I liked his urban tragedies/westerns that he’d been putting out over the last few years as much as anybody, but this new shit is hipper, harsher and cooler than anything he’s done in a few years.
The Double finds Lucas trying to track down a trio of assholes who’ve been ripped off a young woman’s pricey painting after boning down with her a few times. A wiz at finding stolen shit, Lucas is hoping to take a hefty cut of the painting once he’s gotten it back, but the young ex-military dude is also looking for a rush that only intense violence will provide him. Lucky for him, the boys he’s going after are a ruthless bunch with a decent weapons cache who are totally willing to throw down, but will they prove to powerful for our hero?
Pelecanos doesn’t break the bank with plot complications and twists the way most private eye novelists do, the novel still a morally complex modern western more than anything (like the majority of all his writing), but he’s able with these novels to feel younger, more edgy than some of the warmer, more “mature,” family-centered novels he’s given us lately have been. He’s still obsessed with dropping music and movie references and taking his readers on a tour of D.C. that is full of specific locations, but his exploration of masculinity and violence in the Lucas novels seems colder and more pitiless than he’s been in a good long while, and for the Nerd it’s a breath of fresh fucking air.
So if you’ve been off the Pelecanos train for a while on account of some of his shit feeling a same-y these days, the Nerd implores you to give The Cut and The Double a look toot-sweet. And, shit, if you’ve never given the man a chance? Well, first off, let me say you’re a fucking crime philistine who needs to rethink his or her reading choices and, second off, you need to put these books on the top of your TBR pile right now as they are a helluva good place to start getting to know one of the genre’s best novelists.