A friend of a friend, Grace Kinkaid, comes to Spero with a job: steal back a painting that a con-man recently walked off with. Having disappeared from her life as mysteriously as he appeared, Grace needs to know who he is and if he’s pulling the same tricks with others. Can Spero track down the scumbag, get Grace’s painting back and earn his cut?
I didn’t enjoy The Double quite as much as I did the first Spero Lucas novel, The Cut. In fact, I purposely put off writing this review for several days as I couldn’t quite figure out why. It wasn’t a bad novel, Spero’s enemies were just as dangerous and the crime was just as intriguing. The same great cast of supporting characters that I loved from the first were present, so it wasn’t that either. The more I thought about it, I think the whole sub-plot involving Lucas’ affair with a married woman and the graphic sex scenes turned me off. I’m not a prude mind you – I love Brubaker and Phillips’ Criminal series and those comics are packed with smut – but I certainly didn’t need the play-by-play for their steamy sex sessions. I found it didn’t seem to add anything and more or less got in the way of the job Spero was trying to complete. It took up a good chunk of the story and having Lucas sit around pining for her didn’t really do the story any favours.
That aside, I thought Pelecanos did a great job in having Spero begin questioning the lasting effects the war will have on him. It seems that he craves confrontation and is constantly putting himself in harm’s way, desperately trying to regain the adrenaline rush of combat. While many are attempting to steer him toward therapy, his pride seems to always get in the way leaving him running in circles. In a way, it reminded me of Lawrence Block’s Matt Scudder, pre-AA. It all makes for a great, interesting character that I look forward to reading more of.