Monday, May 12, 2014

The Dawn Patrol by Don Winslow

The Dawn Patrol (Boone Daniels #1) Oh yeah. Don Winslow has so many great things going on in this novel it is difficult to pick the best thing to tell you about. It is light and dark at the same time. At one point, one of the good guys goes to do something bad, but it turns out good anyway! That was a very cool twist of fate the pen.

Winslow, one guy with a pen, manages to make the writing sound like a five-piece band…instead of a mystery with two threads and a protagonist, I felt like I just watched a great concert. Part of the reason has to do with the fact that the main guy, Boone, has awesome backup. His team is called the Dawn Patrol, a group of surfers who meet in the water in the mornings before work (for all except Boone.)

The six, whose interests outside of surfing do not necessarily align, trust one another implicitly, and so when when things in water or on land get seriously out of whack or when one of the team does something really dumb and needs rescuing (happens to the best of us), the team surfaces, spreads out, calls on buddies…Talk about social networking…This is California, after all. Since everyone is fit and smart and good at what they do, having a team like this at one's back is like having a superpower.

Surfing for me is a little like fishing. I love reading about it. My first encounter with the concept and culture came in the form of an article by William Finnegan in The New Yorker, written years ago. It awoke in me something akin to awe, and ever since I read hoping to rekindle that early excitement I had about surfing. Winslow does a good job, but most importantly, perhaps, is that he is one of my tribe. Reading and surfing…Boone Daniels is a man after my own heart.

So this story has many threads…what with all the folks out there, waiting for waves. We genuinely care about these characters with vulnerabilities, so we have skin in the game pretty quickly. The main story is that young (really young) Mexican girls are being brought in to Pacific Beach and sold for hourly trysts. The financial payoff is apparently sufficient to make liars and murderers of many marginally ethical folks, and their pressures exert a downward ‘domino effect’ on the society in which they operate. When this spills over to include Boone, he finds and condemns the source of the pressure.

Winslow appears laid back in his vernacular, but anyone that can keep so many balls in the air is not casual in his writing. His writing is fit and tight and his storyline exercised and exorcised of fat. I love this stuff. If you are missing California, or not seeing enough of it in your daily commute, put a little light in your life with Winslow’s series. He gives us a sense that there are still people who have their values screwed on straight.

You can buy this book here: Shop Indie Bookstores

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