California Fire and Life

California Fire and Life

by Don Winslow
4.5 11


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California Fire and Life 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
KenCady More than 1 year ago
Having started with Don Winslow's current novels, those who loved this one have some really good books in store for them. Don Winslow has honed his craft since California Fire and Life, smoothing out the edges and learning even more of those author tricks that make a great novel. This one is good enough, but I would have eased up on the arson classes. Corruption is a common focus with Winslow. Here he takes us for a look from the outside, later, such as in The Power of the Dog, he takes us right inside, as close as he can get us. So don't stop with this one!
Anonymous 12 months ago
Couldn't put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Entertaining and authoritative. In addition to believable characters and a brisk plot, you learn fascinating things about the work of fire investigators.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good read
Lance_Charnes More than 1 year ago
California Fire and Life is the book that comes right after The Death and Life of Bobby Z  in Winslow's oeuvre, toward which I was semi-lukewarm, and is a couple back from The Dawn Patrol , which I liked a bit. In it, Winslow shows the growth curve that eventually landed him with Savages , which is the good news here. Jack Wade isn't quite the archetypical Winslow surfer-slacker semi-hero; he's actually fully employed as a fire claims adjuster with the titular insurance company, and is even good at it, something Winslow usually reserves for his criminals. Wade's assigned to investigate a fire in the mansion of megarich property developer Nicky Vale. The fire not only caused seven figures in damage, but it killed Vale's uber-hot wife. This turns out to be one of those cases that everyone tells Our Hero to not investigate, but he does anyway, and finds out that -- shock horror! -- nothing's as it seems. The things Winslow did well in the other books, he does well here, too. He nails the vibe of late-20th-Century Dana Point and Laguna. The settings are drawn with enough detail for even the most committed flatlander to picture in his/her mind's eye. The dialog is naturalistic and sounds much like what you'd expect coming from characters such as these. The prose is loose-limbed, opinionated, profane, and bursting with color, while not quite as out-there as was Savages. Some of the supporting cast (including Wade's boss and his lost love) are fully-realized characters, something Bobby Z had a problem accomplishing, and the author left out a few of his stock character types, which is also commendable. The bad guys are, as usual, very, very bad, but this time there's a reason for it, unlike in The Dawn Patrol, where they were bad because that's what they were. Even though he's now a working stiff, Wade has the requisite painful, soiled past, complete with lost love. He's not quite as personable as Boone Daniels or Tim Kearney; he's more about competence than charm, which is refreshing. It's interesting to watch him do his very technical thing and use science to tease out the clues to the crime. Fans of forensic procedurals might actually dig this novel. Winslow gives us a fair amount of background in arson investigation (possibly more than strictly necessary) disguised as the saga of Wade going through the academy in his past life. When something breaks right for Wade, it's usually because he earns it, another nice change from Bobby Z. Where'd the fifth star go? When Winslow gives you backstory, he doesn't sprinkle it out with a teaspoon -- you get chapters of backstory, and while it's relatively entertaining to read, it stops the story cold. Wade has a couple of genre-required pointless confrontations with Vale that just make Our Hero look like a dolt. The ending turns into a near-literal Gotterdammerung and a few too many of the plot problems become, shall we say, self-correcting. California Fire and Life isn't a bad way to become acquainted with Winslow, and is perhaps a better start than Bobby Z for established fans to explore the roots of his SoCal/surfer noir works. The arson angle makes for a different sort of crime story, and the words go down like a fresh margarita. If you've read later Winslow and haven't picked up this earlier book yet, get to it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Liked the book, interesting plot. At first I liked all the fire science but it bogged down at times, still very interesting.
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MexicoDan More than 1 year ago
Winslow is a first-rate writer. I am reading my way through all of his books. No disappointments. This one is funny, tragic, well-plotted.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Outstanding story, plot twists abound but don't muddle the story,intriguing characters superbly written. Can't say enough great things about this book!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Alomost didn't read this book as the title and cover were not interesting but was I in for a delighful suprise! Twists and turns and just a great read. Passed it on to friends and they were delighted and anxious to see what else he had written.