How Have I Not Read Don Winslow’s Books Before?

I’ve been interested in what readers have been turning to in these days of quarantine. Some open the classics, others prefer romance. While translated literature has great favor in my reading preferences, I must admit to a weakness for thrillers. Crime. Suspense. The problem, for me, is finding a reliably good one.

I remember reading The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum in the late 80’s and being unable to put it down even though we were in the south of France, and I ought to have been more interested in the Mediterranean. I remember reading Shutter Island by Dennis LeHane and thinking it far superior to Mystic River. And there are so many books in between which I don’t remember at all. They seem to tell the same story, over and over.

I bought The Force by Don Winslow for fifty cents at our library’s Used Book Shelf long before the CoronaVirus appeared. In fact, as I perused my Goodreads shelf yesterday, I noticed I’d marked it as “to read” in 2018. After all the emotionally laden work of the Booker International Prize 2020 long list, which was certainly worth reading, it was a great pleasure to me to dive into these books, for the plots and characterization captured my mind and heart.

The Force is about the New York City Police Department’s Task Force, with a hero I will never forget. It was like reading The Godfather; you know some of the characters are dark, and flawed, and deal in illegal territory, but you can’t help loving them anyway. The dialogue alone in this book was remarkable. I saw Manhattan, in all its glory and all its shame, unveiled before me.

The Power of The Dog is about the drug lords in Mexico. And, the DEA. And, the corruption in politics. It is violent, and horrifying, and absolutely mesmerizing in its revelations. When I was a little girl, I thought that doctors healed, teachers taught, and presidents led. I have since had my eyes opened to the true nature of many in these professions. Now I can add law enforcement to my disillusionment, knowing that all of us are living in an often sad, and fallen, world.

I cannot recommend either of these two novels by Don Winslow enough, and now I leave you to begin The Cartel, which is Book 2 in The Power of The Dog trilogy.

12 thoughts on “How Have I Not Read Don Winslow’s Books Before?”

    1. I was “given” that freedom (of a broken binding) when The Force came to me that way from the Used Book Shelf; truly, it was liberating. Plus, there was no way to read such a thick volume without some bending! I see what you mean! As to The Power of The Dog, I certainly see the difficulty of border patrol and immigration now, in a whole new way. I am no naive that it never occurred to me some of the guards would be payed by the drug lords, and thus the kilos of coke and heroin could easily enter our country.

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  1. I’ve heard so much about these books. I definitely should get to them. Especially The Power of the Dog, I’m a big fan of the Narcos series, and would like to get to know more about that time.

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    1. I liked a The Force the best, I think, because of the “hero” cop, Denny Malone. But, I finished The Power of the Dog last night, and it was not without its own marvelously drawn characters and whiplash action. It was such an engaging, and eye-opening, novel to me.

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  2. Pardon my intrusion. As a retired law enforcement officer, I couldn’t help but comment after perusing your site and reading this post. You stated, “Now I can add law enforcement to my disillusionment, knowing that all of us are living in an often sad, and fallen, world.” Something about that statement touched me. I, like you, went into our chosen careers for idealogical reasons, it sure wasn’t for the pay check. I’m sad to say that I retired without those innocent and sometimes utopian delusions. Although I tried everyday to make a positive difference – the system, the stresses, and the ‘disillusionment’ finally wore me thin, and I knew it was time to retire. It’s sad, I retired from a profession I truly loved and respected. A profession that was much different than when I started all those years ago. Had it not been for my God, and my family, I too could have succumbed to this fallen world. Have a grand weekend!

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    1. Your comment touched me too. You managed to sound not only sad and disillusioned, but also hopeful and full of a deeper understanding of life and your place in it. Thank you.

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  3. I have been meaning to get to these books too. When it comes to recent fiction I find the thrillers with the gritty side of life in them much more entrancing than those American family life stories. I think it was for that reason that I became interested in translated works with all the varied ways of telling stories they bring.

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  4. I haven’t read any of Don Winslow’s books, but he’s got some fans in our mystery book group. One lady just loves his books. I’ll have to try them eventually. Glad you tried them.

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  5. Are these police procedurals? I’ve been reading the Martin Beck series by Maj Sjowall and Per Waloo and can’t put them down. Even though I never even read detective novels!

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  6. This sounds like the perfect thing to read after the Booker International longlist! I’ve been reading more or less the same as usual in quarantine, which means all over the place. I like to read something different from what I just read, which is why those automated suggestions on sites like Amazon never work for me. The same reason they’d never suggest The Force to someone who’d just worked her way through the Booker International longlist! Totally incomprehensible to a machine, and yet to a human being it makes perfect sense.

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  7. This is a great post. I haven’t tried the Don Winslow books and had thought they might be too violent and gritty for me, but you have convinced me to try one.

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