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Savages: A Novel Paperback – March 15, 2011
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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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
It's fun - and funny - reading. Fun, that is, between the torture and killings, when two young California pot dealers get hooked up with the Sinaloa Cartel, out of Mexico. What I like is that it shows the gray of it all... the players aren't pure good or pure evil, they're human beings with up and downsides. You see things from their eyes and some pretty unspeakable things are done by people you come to like. That was the world I saw when I was an agent... much grayer than you see in most novels, movies, TV. The evil becomes so much more powerful because of it. It's the banal evil of human society.
Be prepared for brutality and violence. None of it is gratuitous, though. It's a part of the world he writes about.
Winslow's characters are real, too. He develops them through their thoughts and actions, not through exposition. He knows these people. He knows what makes them do and say what they do.
I'm now reading "The Power of the Dog," Winslow's magnum opus about the Mexican cartels. It's a much different book, but every bit as good, if not better. I'm so happy I came across Don Winslow... I highly recommend his stuff, though maybe not while you're eating dinner.
I don't usually read this genre and to be honest, I only picked this up because I know Oliver Stone has turned this into a film.
Winslow does something rather different in this book in that he makes the non-person narrator a character of it's own. This may feel like author intrusion to some, gimmicky to others or just down right annoying but I loved it. It was something I'd never seen before and I found it hilarious, which helped to lighten the otherwise dreadfully dark and violent content of this story.
As for the story itself, maybe nothing too original. Drug cartels, weed growers, gangs etc. but Winslow definitely delivers this old tale in a refreshing format and I loved his characters. Perhaps they're a bit over the top, like exaggerations of themselves but it didn't stop me from loving the weird threesome at the heart of this story. And a relationship between two guys and a girl like this one isn't often portrayed the way Winslow did it.
My only beef is that this book could have been longer, could have had more plot complications, some deeper exploration of certain characters. There was a lot of backstory given for each character, even the minor ones and what I really wanted was more on Chon, Ben and O - the three protags of the book. Meh, can't please everyone.
I can't wait to see what Stone does with this novel and how he realises it on the big screen.
Winslow did make one mistake, though. In my opinion, it wasn't a good idea for O to become friends with her captors and convince them to give her internet and food she likes. It may be the sort of thing that might happen in real life, but it caused all the conflict to drain away. Because the main source of conflict is the fact that O is in danger and that she's frightened and her guys want to do everything in their power to get her out, but while they're hustling and trying to get money, she's eating pizza with Esteban and watching The Bachelorette. In these circumstances, could she not, in fact, endure the whole three years of her captivity with the Baja Cartel? Do Ben and Chon really need to bust their butts to free her? For just a moment in the middle of it, I felt like I could take or leave the whole book. But then the action escalates and real danger returns and the story is exciting again. And then everyone is in danger, and the story ends in a way that I didn't expect, but that didn't necessarily surprise me when I thought about it later.
So it was awesome to get to know these characters who are so different from myself, and to watch Winslow bend or break so many literary rules in such interesting ways. I would recommend it to people who enjoy action thrillers, who are literature geeks, and who are not offended by graphic sex, violence, and drug use.