Thursday, January 21, 2010


FIRST LINE: "The marine layer wraps a soft silver blanket over the coast."

Boone Daniels is a private investigator by trade, a surfer by choice. He only works when it's absolutely necessary and finances dictate, despite the huge surf preparing to hit the Southern California Pacific Beach, Boone needs to take the case that has arrived at his front door. Petra Hall is a beautiful attorney with a sexy accent and she needs to hire Boone to find a missing prostitute set to testify in an insurance case. However, it doesn't take long for Boone and Petra to discover that much more lies behind that insurance case, enough to warrant murder.

Don Winslow has an amazing knack for writing P.I. fiction. His characters are diverse and quirky and humorous. And the relationships between the characters work to solicit empathy from the reader. At the same time those relationships create conflict for the reader. The tough decisions the characters encounter transfer to the reader. Winslow's antagonists almost drip with "ick" because they are so realistic.

The plot of THE DAWN PATROL exerts the power of the "big wave" set to hit the Pacific Coast. Just when Winslow lets the reader up for air, the next round of action comes roaring in, often catching the reader off guard. But there's no need to worry because being immersed in THE DAWN PATROL is a thrilling experience and well worth the ride.

Winslow's an old hand with the sharp humor. With THE DAWN PATROL however, Winslow drives the reader through a gamut of emotions.

The only minor element I find myself noticing is Winslow's tendency to loosen the plot with maybe more detail than is essential. I felt this in CALIFORNIA FIRE AND LIFE, and I felt it in THE DAWN PATROL, but probably not to the same extent. It's not anything that would ever keep me from reading his books but I do think the plot could have been tighter without sacrificing any of the greatness.

I listened to THE DAWN PATROL on audio book, courtesy of my friend Le0pard13. And it is a great narration, read by Ray Porter from Blackstone Audio. Porter does an exquisite job picking up on the nuances that heighten Winslow's humor as well as his more somber tones. The dialects are well done and consistently well transitioned. There isn't much that can throw a listener off more than a reader who neglects to transition out of a dialect when reading dialogue. In this audio of THE DAWN PATROL it would be crystal clear who was talking even without cues such as "he said"/"she said". This is an outstanding audio.

THE DAWN PATROL is available from Knopf in hardcover (ISBN: 978-0307266200), from Vintage in trade paper (ISBN:978-0307278913), and Blackstone Audio on CD (ISBN: 978-1433214899).


Christine January 21, 2010 at 8:28 AM  

This is the only book of Don Winslow's I've read so far, but plan to get to his others! I enjoyed his characters, got a kick out of learning a bit about surfing and had a few really good laughs. As I spent my high school years in SoCal, I also appreciated getting a bit of history about some of the Pacific Coast towns and cities I'd visited.

BTW, Corey Wilde has an excellent review of the sequel to this book, THE GENTLEMEN'S HOUR over at The Drowning Machine. (My apologies to Corey. I tried to set up a link to that article, but I'm new to this whole HTML stuff and couldn't get it set correctly.) Unfortunately, it's not available in the U.S. yet, but based on Corey's review, I'm really looking forward to that!

Jen Forbus January 21, 2010 at 8:51 AM  

Hi Christine! Funny you should mention THE GENTLEMEN'S HOUR, I'm getting ready to start that book this very day! And you are correct; it isn't available yet in the U.S. But Don Winslow has a slew of other books you can check out. In my audiobook queue I have THE POWER OF THE DOG waiting for me. And as I mentioned, I also listened to CALIFORNIA FIRE AND LIFE. As opposed to learning about surfing, in CFAL, you'll learn all about becoming a fire inspector and the intricacies of fires.

Winslow's Neal Carey series is a fun P.I. series set on the opposite coast, Carey's over in NY. All full of his signature humor!

George January 21, 2010 at 9:22 AM  

I am a huge Winslow fan, and have even read several from his earlier Neal Carey series. However, I thought the Dawn Patrol, and its predecessor The Winter of Frankie Machine, were not match for his The Death & Life of Bobby Z., California Fire & Life, and The Power of the Dog (which was one of the most intense books I've read). I feel that, particularly in Dawn Patrol, he turned a good Novella into a full length book by filling pages with surfer lingo and explainations.

Still a good read, but not up to Winslow's best.

Christine January 21, 2010 at 9:29 AM  

Oooh, I'll be interested in how my favorite reviewer like THE GENTLEMEN'S HOUR. :-) Brian owns THE POWER OF THE DOG and THE DEATH AND LIFE OF BOBBY Z, so I've moved those onto my TBR shelf. I'll definitely check out the Neal Carey series. (Forget shelf, at this rate, I'm going to need a TBR bookcase!)

le0pard13 January 21, 2010 at 3:41 PM  

I can't wait to hear what you think of THE GENTLEMEN'S HOUR, Jen. BTW, Ray Porter does the narration of the THE POWER OF THE DOG audiobook, too. And I very much agree with George that TPofD is one of the most intense books to read (or listened to). Thanks, Jen.

Lesa January 22, 2010 at 7:28 AM  

Hey, Jen! I know you're too busy right now with reviews. So, I gave you an award, but don't expect you to actually participate. Just fun!
Stop by and check it out!

Lesa -

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