Pelecanos’ newest hero walks the mean streets of the Nation’s Capital with all the piercing hopes and fears and personal baggage of the others (The Way Home, 2009, etc.).
Jailed drug dealer Anwan Hawkins, pleased with the way Spero Lucas’ brisk investigative work for attorney Tom Petersen gets his teenaged son David sprung on charges of car theft and worse, asks him to take on a private recovery job. The item in question is three shoeboxes of marijuana pinched from three D.C. doorsteps where Hawkins had asked FedEx to deliver them on the assumption that his couriers would beat the absent homeowners to the pickup. The finder’s fee is 40 percent. The gig smells rotten, but no more rotten than most of what Lucas has done since his stint with the Marines in Iraq. The couriers, Tavon Lynch and Edwin Davis, have nothing to tell Lucas. Nor do most of the neighbors who might have seen who swiped the merchandise. His only hope is Ernest Lindsay, a potential witness who’s a student in Lucas’ brother Leo’s English class at Cardozo High. But Lucas is reluctant to involve Ernest in a case that promises the involvement of bent police officers and hired killers, especially after somebody pops the two couriers. It’s obvious to the reader, if not to Lucas, who pulled the trigger, but not why. And before Lucas learns that, he’ll have to confront the exceptional difficulty of acting the white knight in a world in which, as a deeply compromised cop reminds him, “we all got dirt on us.”
Another tough, heart-rending odyssey through a war zone in which every denizen has the potential to be both hero and villain.