George Pelecanos – “The Double”

The DoubleAnd I come again in praise of Dion Graham.

Graham is the ideal narrator for the gritty streets where George Pelecanos sets his stories, in the underbelly of Washington, D.C. I wish Graham could read every book I “read” on Audio CD. Is that too much to ask? Graham is smooth and nuanced. He gives the Pelecanos stories weight and credibility.

I wish he could read some of the early Elmore Leonard words, like Fifty-Two Pickup and Unknown Man No. 89.

I put Pelecanos right up there with the best, like Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly. I see Pelecanos name on the spine and I think, dependable. Not always, but close. The Double breaks no new ground. It doesn’t play with the urban crime novel genre—it basks with pride down in the muck and mess and meanness.

We met Spero Lucas in The Cut. He’s a former Marine who fought in Iraq. He likes a little weed and he certainly knows his way around the ladies. He’s lean and chiseled. In The Double he tangles with both a beautiful D.C. lobbyist and the hotel sheets. (Pelecanos, shall we say, keeps the lights on. The action here doesn’t break any new ground, either. Rated R, at least.)

But Lucas has a heart. When his apartment has too many books, he brings them to wounded soldiers at Walter Reed. Pelecanos stacks up Lucas with the best writers—Elmore Leonard (naturally), James Lee Burke, Lawrence Block, James Crumley, Tom Franklin, Ron Hansen.

And “some of the books were biography and history; and some were considered literary fiction, whatever that was.” Wink.

Lucas knows that the recovering soldiers “enjoyed a good story told with clean, efficient writing, a plot involving a problem to be solved or surmounted, and everyday characters the reader could relate to.”

Like, of course, the one we’re reading. Wink.

Lucas also has a woman, Grace Kincaid, who wants him to locate a painting. The painting is called “The Double.” Kincaid gives Lucas a lead to the guy she had been seeing and soon Lucas is getting to the bottom of an Internet scam. Lucas is trained to kill and, well, we all know what’s coming.

The Double moves quickly. Berettas, rifles, knives and saps. And blood. Knuckles get raw. “The Double” is a smack in the face. I highly recommended Dion Graham as the man to deliver the blow.


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