The Cut – George Pelecanos

July 6, 2017

George Pelecanos brings political intrigue and brutal underworld crime together in The Cut, published by Little, Brown and Company, copyright 2011.


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This George Pelecanos novel is very inventive but sticks to the bare facts of the relationship between Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.  Apart from being two for the major cities where our government was founded they also rival each other in many ways.  The politicians and lawyers are a huge percentage of the population and many colleges offer degrees in both of these professions.


Leonites “Leo” Lucas is a professor at Montgomery College, one of D.C.’s most prestigious academic institutions, where he teaches the graduate classes.  Leo has high hopes for his students and believes they shall achieve high-level careers.  His brother, Spero, is a private investigator and has discovered that some of the students of Montgomery College may be involved in a highly profitable marijuana smuggling racket.  Spero is a veteran of the war in Iraq and upon returning to the United States found that he had a troubling time adjusting to a “normal” job.  His skills as an investigator, while well adjusted and much better than most, did little to prepare him for the challenge he was about to face.

A defense attorney calls Spero, on Leo’s recommendation, for help in investigating student David Hawkins’ theft and abandonment of an SRV from an affluent D.C. neighborhood.  The attorney, Tom Peterson, has also given him clues as to who else was in the car.  Spero tracks this person, Duran Gaskins, down only to find another troubled youth who gives him nothing to work with other than a bad attitude.  Duran claims to have been “just along for the ride” but something about Duran sends a message that says there is much more to this story.

Spero tracks Duran to his home and finds out that he lives near a house occupied by an attractive and friendly woman who is rarely home.  They become good friends and Lucas soon learns that the woman, Lisa Weitzman, is renting her home from a police officer who is known to have dealings with a major crime boss who deals in large amounts of marijuana.  Officer Learns, he comes to find, is the name of the officer who had arrested the two boys.

This story develops even further when the Spero confronts Duran and he sets him on the trail of this officer that is apparently taking the drugs from the dealers and selling it to Beano Mobley who was known to be a large distributor and smuggler in the drug trade.  Another fascinating aspect of this is regarding Leo and Spero who, along with other parent-less children, are not true brothers but were raised by a Greek couple who had adopted them.  There are many cultural issues brought up involving the traditional practices and family loyalties that have been handed down through generations.  Also I truly enjoyed Pelecanos’ usage of dialect and patterns of speech that vary so greatly between the cultures of the characters he had created to form a truly fascinating novel.

Highly recommend this fine novel.

Literally, Paul.

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