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The Death and Life of Bobby Z Hardcover – April 22, 1997


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Bones Never Lie
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 259 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (April 22, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679454292
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679454298
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #243,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Here's a thriller with everything going for it--a great plot gimmick, excellent action and sex scenes, beautifully-realized characters on every level, and a crisp, pungent, in-your-face writing style that rarely stops to let you catch your breath. Nobody has actually seen the legendary Laguna Beach surfer-turned-drug dealer Bobby Zacharias for years, so a nasty federal agent thinks he has a chance of passing off a lookalike in a hostage switch with a Mexican drug lord. Bobby Z's double, a career screw-up named Tim Kearney, takes the deal because it means a chance to get out of prison--where the Hell's Angels want to terminate him. But when the switch backfires, everyone in the world is after the fake Bobby Z--who takes off with the 6-year-old son of the real Bobby on a cinematic, fully satisfying run for their lives.

From Library Journal

In this fresh, exciting first novel, three-time loser Tim Kearney is given a chance to leave prison behind when federal agents note his physical resemblance to legendary California drug dealer Bobby Z. First, however, Kearney must impersonate Bobby Z convincingly enough to fool a ruthless Mexican drug dealer. Kearney is successful and comes to enjoy the awe and respect his new identity carries. Yet many people would like to see Bobby Z dead, and soon Kearney?unable and unwilling to shed his disguise?must run for his life. Winslow juggles black humor, excellent dialog, and numerous plot twists with the ease of an accomplished veteran. Sure to be popular, this novel is recommended most fiction collections.?Mark Annichiarico, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Don Winslow (b. 1953) is the New York Times bestselling author of thirteen crime and mystery novels as well as short stories and film screenplays. A Cool Breeze on the Underground, Winslow's debut and the first novel in his popular Neal Carey series, was nominated for an Edgar Award. Before becoming a fulltime writer, Winslow worked as a private detective in New York and California.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 63 customer reviews
This guy can tell a story.
M. Emrich
Winslow's written another fast paced, interesting, funny, clever story featuring some great characters and even better scenes.
Sam Quixote
I loved the many twists and turns up until the very end.
Gopher Rod

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By P. Mann VINE VOICE on January 23, 1998
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Author Don Winslow wrote this book largely on a train during commutes and without an outline--and it shows. "The Death and Life of Bobby Z" is a story that goes where it wants when it wants at a furious pace. The setup for the story is fairly simple. A big-time loser of a prison inmate kills another inmate in order to prevent the same thing from happening to him. As it happens, he resembles the notorious drug dealer Bobby Z. So the feds offer him a deal. They want to trade the dealer to a Mexican drug kingpin in exchange for an agent, but Bobby Z happens to be dead. So if the loser will take the place of Bobby Z, they'll trade him and let him fend for himself. But the real Bobby Z, it turns out, has fathered a child, whom the imposter Bobby Z takes under his wing while fleeing from just about everybody and fleeing across Mexico and California.
One of the most compelling aspects of "The Death and Life of Bobby Z" is the style in which Winslow writes. The novel is almost conversational, and Winslow includes liberal doses of California surfer and Mexican jargon. To his credit, Winslow aptly pulls off what could have been an abysmal experiment. The style works with the plot to make this novel one of the fastest reads in a long time.
On an unrelated note, there is a Don Winslow who writes what can politely be called "erotic" novels. These are two entirely different people. The Winslow who wrote "The Death and Life of Bobby Z" is the author of the Neal Carey series ("The Trail to Buddha's Mirror," "A Cool Breeze on the Underground," etc.). In addition, he wrote "A Winter Spy" under the name McDonald Lloyd.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 28, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is obviously a younger book than California Fire and Life, but Winslow does have a knack for taking an intriguing situation and pulling it all together somehow. He seems to have lots of good ideas - a love story, a drama, a larger-than-life hero, a loser, a military thriller. Maybe next time he won't try to cram all five of these into one novel. The Life and Death of Bobby Z is pretty good but probably could have been fleshed out 100 pages or so. Seems as if Winslow is in a rush to get to the next scene. The book is 250 pages. Thomas Hardy would've written the story as 2,500 pages (his characters take 12 pages to go from the porch to the mailbox, but you sure know every tree in the yard by the time they get there, as well as the genus and species of every animal in sight), but I'd settle for a nicely done 500-page Winslow novel. I think he's going to be very good as his writing matures.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Henry W. Wagner VINE VOICE on February 10, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Here's how Tim Kearny gets to be the legendary Bobby Z.

How Tim Kearny gets to be Bobby Z is that he sharpens a license plate to a razor's edge and draws it across the throat of a humongous Hell's Angel named Stinkdog, making Stinkdog instantly dead and a DEA agent named Tad Gruzsa instantly happy.

"That'll make him easier to persuade," Gruzsa says when he hears about it, meaning Kearney of course, because Stinkdog is beyond persuasion at this point."

Thus begins The Death and Life of Bobby Z, one of 1997's most entertaining books. Gruzsa is happy because he sees Kearny as the key to his plan to infiltrate the operations of Don Huertero, the biggest drug lord in northern Mexico. Huertero wants to trade captured DEA agent Arthur Moreno for the legendary dope smuggler Bobby Z, an associate of his he has never actually seen. Unknown to Heurtero, Bobby Z has died in custody. Gruzsa, who wants his man back at all costs, wants three time loser Kearny, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Bobby, to impersonate him.

Kearny, not exactly in a position to bargain, agrees. Before arranging the swap, Gruzsa gives Kearny intensive training in all things Bobby, from his mannerisms down to intimate details of his illegal business operations. It looks like Gruzsa's idea will work, but something goes wrong at the swap and people start shooting. When the dust clears, Kearny finds himself in the middle of a luxurious desert compound belonging to Huertero's number two man, Brian Cervier.

Kearny is accepted as Bobby Z, and discovers some remnants of Bobby's past--a former lover, and a six year old boy she claims is Bobby's son. All appears to be going well, until he discovers that Huertero wants to kill Bobby for a wrong perpetrated against Huertero's daughter.
Read more ›
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael Bryan on July 17, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Fun, fun, fun, fun, FUN. God, this was so good I didn't want it to end. THIS is how you make good writing look effortless. I'm amazed this guy isn't more popular. I read mysteries and thrillers at a very fast rate, and this guy just hits it out of the park chapter after chapter. He's that good. READ HIM.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By James N Simpson on March 21, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Death and Life of Bobby Z is a fast paced, short chaptered easy to read thrill ride. Although not as surreal a writer as Carl Hiaasen, similar styles of characters make up this novel as in Hiaasen's masterpieces. Dumb and greedy criminals and police get what they deserve as they try to take down Tim Kearney, all for different reasons. Kearney an ex Gulf War marine has just killed Stinkdog with a number plate while spending time in the California Corrections system. Stinkdog was a prominent member of the Hell's Angels and a price is put on Kearney's head. Tad Gursza a sleazy DEA agent offers him a deal. He can become recently departed drug legend Bobby Z who has died in custody and be traded for another DEA agent who is in the hands of ruthless drug lord Don Huertero. With no choice Kearney becomes Bobby Z and suddenly has all the women and respect he could ever want but as things go wrong he soon discovers Bobby Z has lots of enemies who want him dead and think Kearney is Z.

This is a sensational novel, I'll definitely be checking out any other work by Don Winslow that I can find.
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