Broken

Broken – Don Winslow

With his new book Broken, author Don Winslow returns with a collection of six novellas.

In the title story, Winslow travels down to New Orleans to focus on a family of cops when tragedy strikes.   A vengeful cop looks to inflict his wrath on the powerful, elusive drug dealer responsible.  Broken reads like John Wick by way of the best Dennis Lehane stories.  While it’s a perfect tight story with barely enough room to breathe, I could have easily read a few hundred more pages of this one.

Crime 101 sees Winslow draw inspiration from those classic Steve McQueen heist flicks by bringing to life a career criminal looking for that one big final score.  US Route 101 is as much a character in this story as anyone else.  We get both sides of the law in this one as Winslow focuses on both the miscreant mastermind and the dogged detective hot on his heels.  Crime 101 feels like a pure popcorn picture.

My personal favourite of the bunch is The San Diego Zoo.  Dedicated to Elmore Leonard, Winslow tells of a bumbling police officer caught in a compromising clip gone viral after an attempt to track down a chimp with a firearm.  The story’s protagonist, Shea, is wildly charming and his drive for redemption had me digest this story in just one sitting.  Truly great stuff.

Sunset, a tribute to Raymond Chandler, takes the reader into the bail bondsmen business.  I’ve yet to fully explore Winslow’s back catalog, so I wasn’t familiar with the characters that return here from prior stories.  I enjoyed it enough and it was pretty easy to spot the connections to Chandler’s acclaimed novel, The Long Goodbye.

A few weeks ago, Don Winslow was interviewed by the folks at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore and when asked about the story Paradise, he talked about bringing back Chon, Ben and O – the characters from his early novels Savages and The Kings of Cool – for another romp.  When writing the story, he decided to bring back another signature character or two.  Is this the WLU – the Winslow Literary Universe?

The final story, The Last Ride, brings Winslow back to a familiar setting – the US/Mexico border.  Don always says he’s done with that three thousand one hundred and forty five kilometre stretch of land but like the mob, just when he thinks he’s finished, it pulls him back in.  The Last Ride is a redemption story of sorts for the Trump supporter – did people really vote for kids in cages?

Winslow knocks it out of the park with this collection.  If you ask me, there isn’t a weak one in the bunch.  The San Diego Zoo just might be the most enjoyable story I read all year.

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