on June 7, 2010
I'm always on the hunt for a new mystery writer and Don Winslow is my latest find. Part of what I think of as the California noir set of writers (James Ellroy, Robert Crais, Charlie Huston, Seth Harwood, etc.) Winslow is probably my new favorite. This is the sequel to "The Dawn Patrol" and probably not the last Boone Daniels novel. Hope not, anyway. It, like many of his other books, is essentially about the dusk of the California Golden Age and the transition into a new California that is better in some ways and worse in others. The phrase that keeps popping up in my mind as I write this is "Surf Western," as this is novel is essentially "Shane" with surf bums, skinheads, lawyers and cops. Great descriptions, memorable characters that seem more than a little plausible, smooth dialogue and plenty of action. The one criticism I would make is that, at times, like any great story teller Mr. Winslow can meander and spend what some would call a little too much time on a tangent (this is especially true of another of his novels, "The Winter of Frankie Machine"). However, the tangents always relate to the story being told in some way and I often found myself wishing to know more about the tangent storyline! That's proof that Winslow is a strong, interesting story teller. If you haven't read "Dawn Patrol," check it out first as you will have a much better grasp of what Boone and the Dawn Patrol are and what they stand for. You'll also have a good grasp of Winslow's idea of the California Golden Age. Highly recommend anything by Winslow (except that "Bobby Z" movie; it's not terrible, but the book is 100% better).
on August 18, 2010
In the cover blurb for this book, Ian Rankin writes that Don Winslow is "so good you almost want to keep him to yourself." Far be it from me to argue with Ian Rankin, but I would modestly suggest that Winslow is so good you want to shout it from the rooftops.
"The Gentlemen's Hour" is the sequel to Winslow's "The Dawn Patrol," featuring surfer/private eye, Boone Daniels, and again, the story is set against the backdrop of the San Diego surfing community. When a surfing idol is brutally and senselessly murdered, Boone alienates practically all of his surfing buddies when he goes to work on behalf of the attorney who is defending the spoiled-rich-kid-gangbanger-wanna-be who has confessed to the murder.
If that's not bad enough, another friend believes that his wife is cheating on him and asks Boone to investigate. Boone soon finds himself caught up in the tangled web of not one but two cases, and he seems to be alienating people right and left as he digs into the seamier side of the California Dream, exposing secrets that a lot of people would prefer be left buried. In the meantime, Boone is also trying to sort out the possibilities of a new romantic entanglement and so life at the moment is way more complicated than it should be for a laid-back surfer dude.
As is always the case with Winslow's books, this is an immensely entertaining ride. Fans will not be disappointed.
on March 13, 2010
Sequel to The Dawn Patrol, Boone Daniels' investigation into the beating death of a surfing legend threatens to not only tear apart his friendships, but also the foundations on which he's built his life.
I couldn't put this damn thing down. Read it, love it, check out his other work. This guy is the most underrated (and virtually unknown) writers around!
on October 8, 2015
What a pleasure to find an exciting new author. Don Winslow has a number of novels in print but for
some reason I missed reading his works. I am now a fan of his and want to start another of his novels ASAP.
The book was chock full of interesting characters, a well plotted story that swept me along. Mr. Winslow's story brought me into the world of surfing. The lore surrounding this somewhat mystical sport of men and women who form a brotherhood of those who try to conquer the ocean riding a small piece of board is only a tiny but interesting piece of the plot. There is murder, mayhem, drug empires and all kinds of bad characters. In the middle is a PI, former cop who had depth principles and was someone I cared about until the end. Learned a lot about politics (dirty) and geology of So. CALIFORNIA coastline.
Winslow was true to the location of his story in every detail I know about San Diego and Del Mar, CA. This book will keep you up past your bedtime.
on May 19, 2015
“The Gentleman’s Hour” is Winslow’s sequel to his excellent novel “The Dawn Patrol.” Set in laid-back San Diego’s Pacific Beach (“PB”), these two novels tell the story of Boone Daniels, itinerant surfer and private detective, former-police officer, and founding member of the Dawn Patrol. As he tells it, the Dawn Patrol is a group of surfers who, naturally, get up at dawn to be the first ones out on the waves. The other members of the Dawn Patrol are Sunny Day, who by this point is now the top professional female surfer over in “Oz,” Dave the Love God, who lifeguards, Johnny Banzai, who surfs before he puts on his Police Detective suit, and Hang Twelve, so nicknamed because he has twelve toes rather than the usual ten. “The Gentleman’s Hour” is the next crew out on the waves. These are retired guys who don’t have to get up before work or the self-employed, who again don’t have to get up before doing anything whatsoever.
While “The Dawn Patrol” offered readers a tremendous amount of background and history of the Southern California surfing world, “The Gentleman’s Hour” takes the reader right into this world and is a detective crime-thriller set against the backdrop of Pacific Beach. This book has a couple of parallel story lines running through it as Boone gets involved investigating on behalf of a kid that beat to death a surfing legend who had been so respected that he brought peace to many gang-infested areas and no one on the beach can respect that Boone has taken the wrong side in this war, including his buddies on the Dawn Patrol. Boone is also investigating a friend’s marital discord. Neither piece of work is guaranteed to bring Boone much in the way of happiness.
Part of the story is that, if you scratch below the surface of the sun and sand, there’s a lot of rotten stuff at the core of our modern society and many of the establishment may just be somehow or other emeshed in the rotting stink.
This is well-written an easy to read. It flows very well. Its unfortunate that Winslow has not chosen to continue this series further as he has created some great characters.
on February 5, 2016
Boone Daniels, the surfer private detective with the cool body and hip attitude resurfaces here in a darker, more complex plot than in "The Dawn Patrol". The love of his life Sunny Day is surfing in Australia and the intense English lawyer Petra has a clean line of attack if she wants it and Boone definitely wants one of them. But, the cool mornings of "The Dawn Patrol" are shaded here by a surfing culture that is turning sour. If you couldn't get the Beach Boys, Wipeout and Pipeline out of your head while reading "The Dawn Patrol", they are gone here for a much grittier acid reflux kind of sound track. Hardly anyone in this novel is who he or she seems. Daniels, again put in motion as a private detective by a commission from Petra is quickly in the familiar Winslow territory of drugs, thugs and Mexican cartels with the nastiest enforcer you'll ever meet. Petra's commission puts Boone at loggerheads with his cop-buddy Johnny Banzai. The idyllic surfing culture now has a cruel and very unpleasant, racist undertone and Daniels is involved in the defence of the accused killer of a local legend. To his friends, he has joined the wrong team and the "gentlemen" of the title have their own feet of clay. Daniels himself takes too long to understand what's going on and comes close to losing every friend and every supporter he has. In "The Dawn Patrol" the surfing culture was set as a contrast to the darkness of the crime that threatened it. In "The Gentlemen's Hour" crime, squalor and deception have seeped in and Daniels is having a hard time keeping his metaphorical head above water. He solves the murder of the local legend and uncovers much more, but what he uncovers creates an overall bad taste int he mouth of the surfing culture. It's not what it was and at the end of the novel, Daniels is not what he was either. As with the first Boone Daniels' novel, you want to seem him again. But maybe Winslow has taken him as far as he wants him to go.
I love Don Winslow--from the great border drug novel, The Power of the Dog, to the superb mini-mob saga, The Winter of Frankie Machine (when is DeNiro going to get off his duff and make the movie?) to his surfer crime novel, The Dawn Patrol. The ensemble cast of the latter novel returns in The Gentlemen's Hour (the period when the older, executive class replaces the dawn patrol on the San Diego surf).
They're nearly all here (Sunny Day is on the circuit, surfing in Australia): Boone Daniels, Johnny Banzai, Hang Twelve, High Tide and Dave the Love God. There's something very rotten in San Dog and Boone is investigating: mega-mansions falling into sinkholes, the leaders of the Mexican drug cartels out and about, a world-class Hawaiian surfer down, taken out by a mortal blow from a white supremacist, kick boxing for keeps, adultery, torture and a scary interrogator for the cartels whose business name is Jones.
Boone must sort this out while working through a romantic subplot with his new British girlfriend, Pete/Petra. The result is pure silk: a cast of attractive characters on the one hand and sleazoid villains on the other, a tight plot, lovely dialogue and a noteworthy setting. The special pleasure here, as in The Dawn Patrol, is the surfer ethos. English teachers point out that the best fiction creates a separate world, one that we embrace in its entirety, one whose ways and--most-important--language we discover, page by page, a world in which we luxuriate. Sounds like a good description of The Gentlemen's Hour.
This is a beach story that is far more than a beach book. Don't miss it. (And watch for Oliver Stone's film of Don Winslow's Savages in 2012.)
on August 17, 2015
I loved The Dawn Patrol, to which this book is a sequel. Dawn Patrol was one of those perfect summer reads, and of course as soon as I finished it, I wanted more of the same. Turns out there is: The Gentleman's Hour, which picks up with the same characters, the same bucolic surf-life, and a good PI mystery thrown in. It isn't as good as The Dawn Patrol, but it does satisfy that urge of wanting more. (I would not recommend reading this one without first reading Dawn Patrol.) It's just enough, though. Upon finishing this one, I didn't feel the need for more. Unsurprisingly, this is closer to screenplay than literature -- but it's the summer! I felt the summer vibes, and might have just as enjoyed it holed up by the snow in winter.
Finally, I did move on to another Don Winslow, in the hope of picking up that first rush again -- he's a fun read.
I greatly enjoyed this thriller set in San Diego among the surfing fraternity. The hero, Boone Daniels, is right in the Raymond Chandler tradition -- the outcast with unshakeable morals. And the rest of the cast is also first class. I learned a lot about the philosophy of surfing and also about the shifting ground on which San Diego is literally built, which becomes a kind of metaphor for the story.
There was a touch of "Chinatown" in this novel as the private investigator begins with what seems like two separate investigations that gradually meld into one huge underbelly of corruption that affects the entire city. Boone seems to face moral dilemmas on virtually every page but in his flip-flops and cutoffs is a true gentleman throughout.
Only one false note: the exquisitely fastidious torturer and contract killer that makes an appearance toward the end (NOT GIVING TOO MUCH AWAY HERE) -- a bit too much of a cliche.
Otherwise, catch this wave of a book and ride it.
on July 21, 2014
Don Winslow does it again. One of THE best crime writers and more importantly, one of the best character writers today. Winslow always manages to add a personal twist to each character he presents in his books, it doesn't matter if they are only on one page or every page. You can't go wrong.
The Flying Fist Ranch