But some things just don’t add up for Spero as he gets to know intimately the streets where the pot packages were stolen. The residents of the street, their habits, where their kids go to school – same place his brother teaches – and the route of the FedEx driver. He even gets to observe the cop who patrols the neighborhood. As Spero learns these details, we get a glimpse of his life. His veteran friends who he employs on a limited basis to help further his knowledge of the area, his mixed-race adopted family, especially with his brother, the teacher. And his love life as he explores a young man's fantasy come true in his easy attraction of various women.
As Spero starts to feel frustration in not being able to get closer to the thieves, he starts to question his ability to do this job as a profession, but then a third package is stolen and Anwan’s lieutenants are found murdered execution style.
Spero follows this only remaining lead and soon comes to suspect a conspiracy that runs deeper than your average drug rip-off. And it becomes clear that it could endanger those close to him. His brother, his mother, his various dates and romantic interests, even those he has taken an interest in during the investigation. Then one night an attempt is made on Spero’s life and as he zeros in on those he suspects, he must distance himself from those who could possibly help him.
What Pelecanos has done here is to fashion a first-class crime story that stands head and shoulders above the genre and contains all the right elements to be considered literary fiction as well as popular fiction. Then he wraps it up as the opening of a series that should keep any reader ecstatic for years to come. It’s a master's hand at work here, and a master who not only knows the craft of writing but the art of life in the heart of America’s capital.