Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Gentleman's Hour -- Don Winslow

If I were making a short list of the best crime writers around, which I'm not, I'd certainly include Don Winslow. The reason I'm not making the list is that I don't read widely enough to feel qualified, but if I did, I'll bet I'd still include Winslow. If you need any proof that he belongs on the list, read The Gentleman's Hour. Or for that matter, read just about anything else he's written.

The Gentleman's Hour is a sequel to The Dawn Patrol, and it again features Boone Daniels and his friends who go out early every morning to surf. They're the Dawn Patrol. One day Boone hangs around into the Gentleman's Hour when some of the older surfers come along. Most of them are successful businessmen, including Dan Nichols, who has a problem. His wife, he says, is unfaithful, and he wants Boone to find out for sure. Boone works as a private-eye, but he hates matrimonials. Nichols pleads, and Boone accepts, to his sorrow.

Then Petra Hall wants to hire Boone to help with the legal defense of Corey Blassingame, a young man who's confessed to killing Kelly Kuhio, a beloved surfer and local legend. Everyone, including Boone's closet friends, wants Blassingame in prison for life of, better yet, dead. But Boone accepts the job, again to his sorrow. The fact that he'd work on the kid's defense causes considerable tension between him and his friends.

Throw in feuding drug lords, real estate scams, and a villain who loves to torture people, and things get pretty complex. As dark as the subject matter is, Winslow somehow manages to keep the sun shining. Fine writing, great characters, and superb plotting do the job. You can't ask for much more than that. Check it out.


Dwight Brown said...

The first Winslow book I read was *California Fire and Life*. I love that book; I think it is one of the great American private eye novels.

The next Winslow book I read was *The Power of the Dog*. I think that's a really good book; not as good as *California*, but that's like saying "that mountain isn't quite as high as Everest".

Then I read *The Winter of Frankie Machine*. I liked it well enough, but I had this feeling of "I've eaten this meal before".

Then I read reviews of *The Dawn Patrol*, and I found myself thinking, "Surf bum, crime...Yeah, this sounds like leftovers to me."

So I have to ask, Mr. Crider, and other folks who have read more of Winslow's work than I have; am I off base here? If I liked *California* and *Dog*, are *Dawn Patrol* and *Gentleman's Hour* going to show me something I haven't seen before?

Gerard said...

Crider, Did you order the UK edition of this?

Richard Robinson said...

I've read quite few of Winslow's books, and have enjoyed them all, Fire and LIfe the most, I think.

I read DAWN PATROL a few months ago and liked it quite a bit. Sure there are a couple of "uh, wait a minute..." moments in it, but I really liked the cast and am glad to see them back! I'll be buying this one and reading it as soon as I can.

I was in Ocean Beach last week, drove over during mu stay and had a burger at Hodad's.

Dan said...

I used to foillow Don Winslow's comic book adventures regularly, but I had no idea he left the Navy and became a writer.

Richard Robinson said...

Now I'm confused. This isn't available new, there are a few really expensive used copies, most in the U.K. or Germany. Is this being reprinted soon, or...?

Gerard said...

I read a guy's comments that it was printed in the UK but will not be released in the US until 2011.

Bill Crider said...

I should have said this was a UK edition. I forgot. I ordered it from the UK.

Dwight, I don't think this one or DAWN PATROL will show you anything new. They're both very well done, but not ground-breaking. I liked 'em anyway.

Steve Oerkfitz said...

I love Don Winslow's books. Gentleman's Hour will not be published in the U.S. until 2011. He has another novel coming out this summer called Savages which has been bought by Oliver Stone fo a film. Winslow has also been signed to write a sequel to Trevanian's Shibumi. Some of his earlier novels are going to be reissued starting next fall by a small press.

Bill Crider said...

That would be Houston's own Busted Flush Press. Texas Leads the Way.

MysterLynch said...

Winslow, like TJ Parker, is an author that has slowly captured me. Title after title, I have enjoyed his work.

It wasn't until DAWN PATROL that I realized that Don's work has consistantly wowed me.

I don't know why I have not ordered this yet! I will do so tomorrow.

Kent Morgan said...

I thought California Fire and Life was terrific. As for The Dawn Patrol, I liked it almost as much so when I heard about Gentlemen's Hour being published in the UK, I ordered it from Also ordered Cathie Unsworth's latest, Bad Penny Blues. The books arrived in midwestern Canada in 10 days and shipping is included in the price. I encourage anyone thinking about ordering books from the UK that they check out this bookseller.

Bill Crider said...

Thanks for the tip.