Tuesday, February 16, 2010

THE GENTLEMAN'S HOUR - Don Winslow

First Line: "Kansas. 'See flatter than.'"

THE GENTLEMEN'S HOUR is Don Winslow's follow-up to THE DAWN PATROL. Named for the block of surfing time in the day directly after "The Dawn Patrol," THE GENTLEMEN'S HOUR finds Boone Daniels investigating the circumstances of the murder of his surfing hero, Kelly Kuhio. The only problem with this situation is the fact that Boone is investigating on behalf of the young man who has admitted to killing Kelly. The other members of The Dawn Patrol turn their backs on Boone when they learn what he is doing. The only exception is Sunny who is no longer in Southern California; she's on the professional surf tour.

The detective who normally prefers to be inactive whenever possible, Boone is also juggling a second case for one of his friends who normally surfs The Gentlemen's Hour, Dan Nichols. Nichols has hired Boone to follow his wife and find out if she is cheating on Nichols. Boone hates these kinds of cases, but accepts to help a friend. His choice may end up leading Boone straight to jail.

THE GENTLEMEN'S HOUR is presently not available in the United States. From the information I've garnered, this book will not be available in the U.S. until summer of 2011. However, I was fortunate enough to have a friend, thank you le0pard13, who purchased a U.K. version of the novel, which is presently available. He shared his copy with me, and I was able to luxuriate in 328 pages of Winslow goodness.

Don Winslow is notorious for the sharp wit in his writing. He can be writing about the darkest, ugliest aspects of human nature and manage to pop something out that just makes you laugh, even though you're on the verge of heart-wrenching tears. And the reason you laugh is because the quip is so blatantly and starkly true. While THE GENTLEMEN'S HOUR doesn't quite take you to the heart-wrenching tears - crying is not permitted in the gentlemen's hour, after all - it does explore, as THE DAWN PATROL did, the complexities and sensitivities of friendship and its bonds.

As in THE DAWN PATROL, the action of the plot is symbolized through the ocean:
"Never turn your back on a wave.

Never turn your back on the absence of a wave, either, because the second you do, a real thundercrusher will rise out of nowhere and smack you down. The ocean may look like one thing on the surface, but there's always something different happening underneath. That something could start a thousand miles away and then be headed toward you and you'll never know about it until it happens."
At the onset of THE GENTLEMEN'S HOUR, the ocean is flat and still. No surfing takes place, just lolling and philosophizing. The ocean, like life, is all powerful. You can't control it even when it's still, but you can learn to understand it. Boone understands the ocean; it's the rest of life he still needs to be educated in. He's learning bit by bit and he's trying to do what he knows is right, regardless of how hard that may be. That struggle to do right is what makes Boone a character readers can relate to. His missteps and machismo are what make him a character readers find humor in. The whole package is what makes him the protagonist of a outstanding P.I. novel.

THE GENTLEMEN'S HOUR cut a lot of the fat from THE DAWN PATROL for a tighter plot, but it maintains Winslow's depth and humor. The return of Petra and the loss of Sunny throws explosive dynamics into The Dawn Patrol's chemistry. And the added layer of The Gentleman's Hour builds dimension in the surfing community of Southern California. And of course, the Pacific once again takes on the dual role of character and setting.

While the ocean may not look like it's doing much in THE GENTLEMEN'S HOUR, Winslow is making a huge splash with the return of "Boone freaking Daniels" and his surfing crew: "Dave the Love and War God, Johnny Absolutely Banzai, High Rolling Tide, and Hang Tough Twelve," not to mention "Loco Ono." If you enjoyed THE DAWN PATROL, you will love THE GENTLEMEN'S HOUR. If you haven't read THE DAWN PATROL, now's the time. This is a series most effectively read in order. Pick up THE DAWN PATROL before THE GENTLEMEN'S HOUR'S release in 2011.

And if you can't wait until 2011, THE GENTLEMAN'S HOUR is available now in the U.K. through William Heinemann (ISBN: 978-0-4340-1925-0).

7 comments:

Naomi Johnson February 16, 2010 at 8:03 AM  

My turn next? Michael, you need this back when?

Jen Forbus February 16, 2010 at 8:08 AM  

yes ma'am! I just dropped it down in the mail room this morning. I believe it still needs to go to Poncho, too.

Naomi Johnson February 16, 2010 at 8:29 AM  

Then I promise I'll be quick! I'll wear my Olympic speedreading glasses!

Jen Forbus February 16, 2010 at 8:32 AM  

Oh, I want to see pictures of THAT in the Olympic games!

Naomi Johnson February 16, 2010 at 10:37 AM  

Sorry, those glasses are still classified top-secret.

le0pard13 February 16, 2010 at 3:32 PM  

Great review, Jen. I believe you all have the order right. I don't need it back till mid-April (around the time of the Festival of Books). Thank you.

Christine February 16, 2010 at 4:14 PM  

D'oh, forgot to nominate Boone! Gotta fix that. ;-)

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