“Broken” by Don Winslow (William Morrow)
Don Winslow, whose work includes a dozen of the best crime novels written within the last 20 years, displays all of his strengths, including propulsive narration, compelling characters and a decent , staccato literary genre, in “Broken,” a set of six remarkable novellas.
The length of his novels has been swelling in recent years, his latest, “The Force,” exceeding 700 pages; so these tales, each about 50 pages long, are a departure for him. They vary in tone, but each, in its own way, conveys the sense that the people and/or American institutions he portrays are broken.
One yarn, “The San Diego Zoo,” does it with slightly of humor, its first sentence, “No one knows how the chimp got the revolver,” making it virtually impossible to not read on.
Another, “The Last Ride,” does it with a dose of righteous anger as a Donald Trump supporter, horrified by the sight of a touch girl during a cage, sets bent to reunite her together with her mother in defiance of his patrol superiors.
Others portray a replacement Orleans cop violently avenging the murder of his brother, a cat-and-mouse game between an ingenious jewel thief and a dogged California detective, a San Diego bail bondsmen on the search for a former surfer god turned junkie killer and a team of California marijuana growers trying to determine a base of operations on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
Fans of his novels will find familiar characters here, including drug dealers Ben, Chon and O from “Savages” and therefore the team of surfing detectives from “Dawn Patrol.” But Winslow also introduces memorable new characters including an iconoclastic lieutenant named Ronald “Lou” Lubesnick.
The tales, three of them appropriately dedicated to Leonard, Steve McQueen, and Chandler, all unfold at a torrid pace which will leave readers both satisfied and wishing for more.
Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is that the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.”