Every man has his dark side . . . Spero Lucas confronts his own in the most explosive thriller yet from one of America's best-loved crime writers.
The job seems simple enough: retrieve the valuable painting -- "The Double" -- Grace Kinkaid's ex-boyfriend stole from her. It's the sort of thing Spero Lucas specializes in: finding what's missing, and doing it quietly. But Grace wants more. She wants Lucas to find the man who humiliated her -- a violent career criminal with a small gang of brutal thugs at his beck and call.
Lucas is a man who knows how to get what he wants, whether it's a thief on the run -- or a married woman. In the midst of a steamy, passionate love affair that he knows can't last, in pursuit of a dangerous man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, Lucas is forced to decide what kind of man he is -- and how far he'll go to get what he wants.
Reviewed by Patrick Millikin Pelecanos's novels have always kept one eye toward the recent past a constant touchstone being the 1970s. The decade's popular culture, its fashion, film, music, and automobiles inform novels such as Hard Revolution, King Suckerman, and What It Was, which are set during one of the most tumultuous periods in the nation's history. In a way, all the novels that Pelecanos has written have been influenced by the Vietnam War. Now Pelecanos, a producer of The Wire and Treme who's also written for both HBO shows, has given us a new series that brings us right up to the present. With Spero Lucas, introduced in 2011's The Cut, Pelecanos has created one of his finest, and most complex, protagonists. An Iraq War combat veteran, Lucas has seen more than his share of death, but, unlike many of his returning peers, he has found work that allows him to tap into the heightened levels of adrenaline that were awakened overseas. His primary gig is as investigator for D.C. defense attorney Tom Petersen, who gives him a difficult case at the outset of this sequel to The Cut. A client, Calvin Bates, faces the death penalty for the first-degree murder of his mistress, Edwina Christian, whose body has been discovered in a nearby wooded area. Inconsistencies in the case, including physical evidence at the crime scene, have Lucas convinced that the story might not be as cut-and-dried as it appears. In the meantime, Lucas has found himself another side job, the retrieval of a stolen painting called The Double from a young divorc e's condo. His usual terms apply: 40% of the stolen item's value, in cash, no questions asked. The trail leads Lucas to a trio of thugs working together on various criminal enterprises: a Russian Internet scammer, a sociopathic lothario preying upon vulnerable women, and a young ex-con and former tweaker. As Lucas follows the various strands of his investigation, he finds himself enjoying the hunt, the prospect of violence that will result as he lures his quarry into the open, and the inevitable confrontation. Indeed, the painting itself becomes an apt metaphor for Lucas's life: the "civilized," outward identity and the darker shadow self, containing a primal warrior side that, as Pelecanos writes, he doesn't fully understand. While several of his most trusted friends, fellow Marines, have been able to leave the violence in them behind, Lucas has been unable to do so. Further complicating matters is a gorgeous, unavailable married woman, with whom Lucas has fallen into a passionate affair. At the background of the novel is Lucas's own family, his mixed-race siblings, his Greek-American parents. Pelecanos puts the race issue out there, but doesn't focus on it; the Lucases are simply a family, and a loving one. With respect for D.C.'s past on one side, and a vibrant, youthful new protagonist looking squarely into the future, this is the start of a remarkable series. Longtime Pelecanos diehards will be more than satisfied, and new readers will find themselves jonesing for more. Patrick Millikin is the editor of the Akashic anthology Phoenix Noir.
Customer ReviewsSee All
George Pelecanos has done it again. Spero Lucas, at his best-gritty, violent when needed, and lives he life he has chosen. Pelecanos is as good as it gets, and he'll take us on a great, long ride with Spero. Hang on, it will be a helluva ride!
Womanizer, pot smoking loser
I couldn't finish it. Poor English, terrible slang, boring story. A pot head womanizer as a "good guy" just does't work for me.
Another gun killing woman screwing dribble. Where are the good authors who do not need to kill people or fantasize sex?