Postcards From a Dying World
News, views, book reviews and commentary from the Science Fiction and Horror fiction underground. Home of the Wonderland award nominated author of Vegan Revolution...With Zombies and Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich.
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Book Review: The Force by Don Winslow
The Force by Don Winslow
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published June 2017 by William Morrow
I know this year has been a real sci-fi and horror heavy year for me reading wise but I enjoy crime novels. So this is not that out of left field for me. Dawn Patrol Winslow's amazing San Diego based novel is one of the rare books that broke my published in 2016/17 rule for reading this year. The Force follows those rules and it was one I wanted to read since I heard the author on a podcast. Crime novels come in different shapes and sizes and depending on the skill of the author different levels of quality. On the surface the Force is a cop novel, surely there are many of those. Don Winslow is not just a novelist, trained as journalist and academic Winslow writes stories that educate as much as they make you feel. It is a little less message oriented than his last novel, I have not yet read the Cartel but Winslow seems passionate about ending the war on drugs.
The level of detail and research have become a trademark of a Winslow novel. They are fiction but they feel like a window on to the world, you will be educated as well as entertained. That is the important part entertainment and believe me the book is thrilling. Moments of suspense, drama and intensity.
Sometimes I think cover blurbs work against an author with hyperbole that is impossible to live up to. I worried about this as Stephen King compare this book to the godfather with cops. The NYPD world of The Force is clearly detailed researched but one would hope it was not as ugly as this. Keep in mind this is not bash fest of cops. It is clear Winslow does not have a ton of respect for the methods and processes of the Federal investigation agencies. From my experience of being a radical activist I can tell you those parts felt dead on.
This might be a result of the tight point of view. This is not a first person narrative, but unlike the Don Winslow books I have read before the POV follows the main character Denny Malone closely. He certainly hates Internal affairs and the feds. Not sure if that is a feeling Winslow has himself but he certainly gave us that feeling dripping off the page. Denny is a hero cop, son of a hero cop. He is not exactly clean and it is not a spoiler to say he ends up in trouble as we meet him in lock-up and then we are told the story backwards.
Denny is our window but the elite group of cops know as "Da Force" and the justice system in the city is the focus of the book. So the cops break down a few doors and make busts but the action and tension comes from the interplay of Denny and his borthers with the whole system. Judges, lawyers, special agents, internal affairs. Denny has to interface with federal agents investigating his unit and that interplay is like a boxer trading blows. All the best moments of drama and suspense are woven with those confrontations.
The feds have Denny by the balls, and he is forced to do things he finds disgusting. "being a Rat" disgusts the man who had no problem doing the same thing to criminals. It is a interesting moment when Denny realizes he has become many things he hated. That is how the feds and the court system works. How many times do people lie to protect themselves in court? How times do innocent people accept deals because they are afraid to lose in court? How many times do deals get made by the people caught in deals on and on. The questions that rise about our system while you read this book are numerous.
This novel does a great job of shining a light on how the gears of "justice" work in the system. There really are no good guys here. The novel is a exploration of loyalty in a impossible situation. The Force is a must read novel for crime fans. I think it is a masterpiece however I think it is really essential for crime fans but also anyone wanting to understand the criminal justice center.