The Southern California kingpin of the surf-and-drugs thriller should extend his popular domain with this novel.
Those who discovered Winslow with his breakthrough Savages (2010) have some catching up to do. This sequel to The Dawn Patrol (2008) receives belated American publication a couple of years after it was issued in Britain, with both its colorful characters and narrative propulsion suggesting that there’s a series in the works. Protagonist Boone Daniels lives to surf and works when he has to, as a private investigator, after leaving the San Diego police force because of a moral quandary. His former police colleague Johnny Banzai remains one of his best friends, and the two are charter members of “the Dawn Patrol,” the surfing elite who hit the waves early, before “the gentlemen’s hour” brings an older generation of surfing veterans to the beach. The senseless murder of an international surfing guru by a drunken punk threatens the bond of Boone and his fellow Dawn Patrollers, and Johnny in particular, once the private investigator comes to suspect that police coerced a false confession from their reviled suspect, and that eyewitness testimony is shaky as well. The lawyer girlfriend who has involved Boone in the case says that he sees “surfing as some sort of pristine moral universe,” though those waters get awfully murky, as the plot comes to envelop white supremacists, land-shark real-estate developers, crooked geologists, ultimate-fighting thugs and the inevitable Mexican drug cartel. By the end, what had begun as a senseless fatality (spiced with a bit of adultery as a side case) threatens to blow the entire power structure of San Diego to bits.
A former private investigator with an encyclopedic knowledge of the seamier side of Southern California, Winslow occasionally lays on the surf argot a little too thick (“I want to move under you like that ocean you love so much”), but his combination of social commentary and breathless action packs a wallop.