From Publishers Weekly
Spare, clipped expository prose and hip, spot-on dialogue propel this visceral crime novel from Winslow (The Dawn Patrol). The future is looking good for Laguna Beach, Calif., marijuana growers Ben and Chon, until they receive an ominous e-mail from the Baja Cartel. Attached is a photograph showing the decapitated bodies of other independent drug dealers. The message is clear: sell your product through us or else. Ben and Chon try to resist, but matters escalate after cartel thugs abduct Ophelia, the guys' beautiful young playmate and accomplice, and hold her for a cool million ransom. Meanwhile, Elena "La Reina" Sanchez Lauter, the leader of the Baja Cartel, must deal with rival drug gangs and potential overthrow from within. Ben and Chon propose a trade that Elena can't refuse, setting the stage for the violent and utterly satisfying ending. Winslow's encyclopedic knowledge of the border drug trade lends authenticity.
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*Starred Review* Ben and Chon are two Americans running a lucrative marijuana operation out of ritzy Laguna Beach, California. Their business is buzzing along nicely until members of the Mexican Baja Cartel decide they want a piece of the action. Ben, a charitable, environmentally conscious Berkeley grad, doesn’t want any trouble. Former Navy Seal Chon prefers peace as well but not if it means giving up primo weed. When Ben and Chon resist the Mexicans’ demands, the cartel kidnaps “O” (short for Ophelia), the boys’ close confidante and frequent bedroom playmate. Ben and Chon conjure clever schemes to outwit their adversaries and win back O, using everything from improvised explosive devices to Letterman and Leno masks. Edgar nominee and Shamus winner Winslow, who first evoked the violent world of the Mexican drug cartels in the best-selling narco-thriller Power of the Dog (2005), dispenses short chapters that drive his plot breathlessly forward. He also serves up plenty of savage wit. After Ben dons a Gerald Ford disguise for one of the pair’s heists, he smacks his head against the car door, quipping, “I’m a method hijacker.” Riddled with bullets and splattered with blood, Savages is not for the squeamish, but it’s a must for Winslow fans. --Allison Block