Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

THE DAWN PATROL by Don Winslow

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As a former private eye himself, author Don Winslow knows how to walk the walk and talk the talk. Apparently from the surfer lingo and expertise scattered throughout The Dawn Patrol, Winslow also knows how to ride the waves, brah.

I loved his last book, The Winter of Frankie Machine, and am looking forward to the movie. So I picked up The Dawn Patrol with a lot of enthusiasm and high expectation regarding character development. Winslow didn’t let me down. He hit his marks from the first line and had me frantically turning pages thereafter. Not only was the character development constantly in motion, so was the plot and all the emotional complications – as well as the twisty mystery/crime angle.

Boone Daniels (and yep, that name sparked a lot of commentary throughout the novel, ‘cause it’s like Daniel Boone only backward) is a slacker private investigator in San Diego. But slacker though he is, he’s also the guy a lot of lawyers go to when they need to turn up a lowlife or get information from the more dangerous neighborhoods in the city. But although Boone can be a tough guy, being a hardnosed private eye isn’t really his way. Usually he nabs the person he’s after or the information he’s looking for because everyone likes him and because he’s brutally clever.

Boone only works when he has to, and since his landlord will let him slide on the rent (Boone once did him a good turn and the old man really likes living on the fringes of Boone’s detecting), Boone really doesn’t have to work all that often. Mostly he’s out on the waves. Generally the cases he does accept don’t take him that long. He’s connected to all the lowlifes and moves through them like a shark blazing through a calm lagoon.

One of the things I most loved about the book (and the one that is going to compel me to read through it again) is the band of characters that support Boone. They’re all colorful and different, almost a full spectrum of the way Boone’s life could have and might still go if he chooses a path. I especially loved the way I got to slide into their heads briefly enough to understand the conflicts that fired them into doing the different things they did throughout the novel.

Petra, the lady lawyer that insists on accompanying Boone on his search for a missing witness, is well done. If this book makes it to the movie studios (and it definitely has my vote), it’s going to take a great actress to pull it all off. She’s strong and sexy, and a complete pain in the butt when she wants to be – which is exactly the kind of character to pit Boone against as he tries to grind out what should be an investigation cakewalk that turns ugly and dangerous. Her appearance and subsequent interest in Boone causes problems with Boone’s main squeeze, Sunny Day.

There’s enough action, betrayal, and mystery to keep fans of the private eye genre devouring the book. Even if you figure out what’s actually taking place, you’re still in for a great ride while Winslow ties up every plot thread he’s dangled out there in a satisfactory conclusion.

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