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The Force: A Novel Hardcover – June 20, 2017
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“Mesmerizing, a triumph. Think The Godfather, only with cops. It’s that good.” (Stephen King)
“Intensely human in its tragic details, positively Shakespearean in its epic sweep—probably the best cop novel ever written.” (Lee Child)
“A scorcher.” (New York Times Book Review)
“Shocking authenticity is the lifeblood of Don Winslow’s The Force. I stopped everything I was doing to read it straight through. Detective Sergeant Denny Malone takes us on a searing journey through the corruption that lies at the heart of our justice system. I wish I’d written it!” (Greg Iles, author of Mississippi Blood)
“Don Winslow’s New York copy novel The Force is a scorcher, and if his sources are on the level it’s time for another Knapp Commission.” (Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review)
“Don Winslow’s novel The Force isn’t just one of the great New York City cop novels ever written. It is one of the great New York City novels ever written.” (Mike Lupica, New York Daily News)
“Don Winslow’s summer blockbuster, The Force, is ready-made for Hollywood… A big, fat book of fast-moving fiction… Riveting and scary — in a lot of ways.” (Neely Tucker, Washington Post)
“(A) shattering New York cop epic… The pace is kept up by the Winslow way with words, which almost entirely defies being quoted here, either because of the slang (Elmore Leonard league) or because of the everyday obscenities that lace every funny line.” (Janet Maslin, New York Times)
“Winslow brings incisively-researched details, gut-wrenching plotlines, and infinite heart to his all-too-real, highly compassionate tale.” (Daneet Steffens, Boston Globe)
“There won’t be a better cop novel this year than The Force by Don Winslow. Not next year, or the year after that, either.” (Linwood Barclay)
From the Back Cover
Based on years of research deep inside the New York City Police Department, The Force is the great cop novel of our time and a book only Don Winslow could write
Our ends know our beginnings, but the reverse isn’t true . . .
All Denny Malone wants is to be a good cop.
He’s the king of Manhattan North, a highly decorated NYPD detective sergeant and the real leader of “Da Force.” Malone and his crew are the smartest, the toughest, the quickest, the bravest and the baddest, an elite unit given unrestricted authority to wage war on gangs, drugs and guns. Every day and every night for the eighteen years he’s spent on the Job, Malone has served on the front lines, witnessing the hurt, the dead, the victims, the perps. He’s done whatever it takes to serve and protect in a city built by ambition and corruption, where no one is clean—including Malone himself.
What only a few know is that Denny Malone is dirty: he and his partners have stolen millions of dollars in drugs and cash in the wake of the biggest heroin bust in the city’s history. Now Malone is caught in a trap and being squeezed by the feds, and he must walk the thin line between betraying his brothers and partners, the Job, his family and the woman he loves, trying to survive, body and soul, while the city teeters on the brink of a racial conflagration that could destroy them all.
The Force is a haunting story of greed and violence, inequality and race, crime and injustice, retribution and redemption that reveals the seemingly insurmountable tensions between the police and the diverse citizens they serve. A searing portrait of a city and a courageous, heroic and deeply flawed man who stands at the edge of its abyss, it is a masterpiece of urban realism full of shocking twists, leavened by flashes of dark humor, a morally complex and utterly riveting dissection of modern American society and the controversial issues confronting us today.
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THE FORCE tells the story (from his point of view, throughout) of Denny Malone, the head of a north Manhattan force whose mission is to ‘hold the line’. His living partners include an Italian, an African-American and a Jew. Denny is the king of the streets, but those streets corrupt him, one step at a time, as the story’s leitmotif states. The epigraph is from FAREWELL, MY LOVELY:
“Cops are just people,” she said irrelevantly.
“They start out that way, I’ve heard.”
The novel’s ethos is full-bore Chandler. The police are corrupt. The courts are corrupt. The ADAs are corrupt; the defense attorneys are corrupt; the judges are corrupt. The mayor is corrupt and the city’s business interests are corrupt. They share their corruption in a web that includes the Mafia, the drug dealers (both black and Latino), the street snitches and the gangs. In Chandler’s vision the lone individual is largely powerless against their combined forces and in THE FORCE that message is reexamined. Denny Malone is the corrupted street king but when the lawyers, the desk jockies at internal affairs, the feds and the mob move on him he becomes the lone individual, struggling to survive and reclaim some portion of his dignity.
As in L.A. CONFIDENTIAL there are multiple lies and multiple stories to be kept in balance. While the story is crystal clear its telling is very complex as the successive layers are revealed and the results ensue. The ‘mysteries’ inhere in Denny’s situation: how will he possibly extricate himself from the threats that surround him? How can he dig himself in deeper and deeper and yet still strive for some fragment of redemption?
This is a very impressive novel, a worthy successor to Don Winslow’s previous epic narratives, THE POWER OF THE DOG and THE CARTEL. While the story is confined to Manhattan and its immediate environs the canvas feels vast and its geographic, demographic and other technical details are at Winslow’s fingertips. So too is the copspeak and the black and Spanish argot which give the streets their literary feel. The novel begins with the establishment of that feel as it explores the texture of Denny’s kingdom and the relationships that constitute it; it then shifts to pure tension mode as Denny is braced and turned and must struggle to survive. Many have commented on the cinematic ending, but that ending is preceded by a number of cinematic scenes that are also memorable.
It is only June, too early to label THE FORCE the book of the summer or the book of the year, but it will surely be a major contender. Winslow is at the top of his game now. This is an absolute don’t miss.
It starts out with the main character in jail and just gets relentlessly bleaker and blacker the rest of the novel. If you're on anti depressants you may want to increase your dosage before you start.
There's no one in this book that I cared about or had any feelings for. There are no good guys.
Malone, the main character, came off as a shallow, rationalizing jerk, to me.
Starting the book with him in jail removed any suspense or any hope that he'd redeem himself.
I see that I've touched all the things I didn't like but it's still a pretty good book. Winslow is great writer but first time readers should start with one of his other books.
This riveting novel reveals the corruption and big money destroying our cities. The common denominator here is that the rich and powerful are the biggest criminals of all. Cops are their enforcers, or course, protecting their wealth and property above all else. But some cops mean well, and others are victims of the same oppressive, dehumanizing capitalist imperatives all struggle under. This book does The Blue proud. Mostly.
But even without the politics, this gem of a crime thriller stands on its own fantastically rendered characters, break-neck pace, and emotional punch.
Don't miss this or any of this author's work.