The laidback calm of the Southern California surfing community of Pacific Beach boils over violently in Winslow's fast-paced sequel to The Dawn Patrol (2008). Surfer dude PI Boone Daniels reluctantly takes on two cases. First, fellow board rider Dan Nichols suspects his wife, "an eleven on a California scale of ten," is cheating on him and wants Boone to spy on her. Worse, Boone's new slow-burning flame, lawyer Petra Hall, wants him for the defense of 19-year-old Corey Blasingame, tied in with the Rockpile Crew, a surfing gang with a neo-Nazi skinhead agenda, from up the coast. Corey is accused of the beating death of surfing legend Kelly Kuhio, "Uncle K" to Boone, who worshipped him as a kid. Dumped headfirst into a dark ocean of "localism," Boone must also contend with surfers trying to keep their beaches for themselves and threats from the Mexican cartels. The title refers to the "second shift on the daily surfing clock" after the dawn patrol. Winslow ensures there's nothing "gentlemanly" about the action. (Aug.)
The dog days of August bring flat water for the handful of aging surfers who paddle out into San Diego Bay before heading to work each morning. Among them, PI Dan Boone and SDPD detective Johnny Kodani find their relationship strained because they are on opposite sides of the investigation of the brutal murder of a local surfing icon. The confessed killer is a rich kid from La Jolla whose father is a real estate magnate. But Boone's not sure the kid really did it and is working for the defense. Meanwhile, he's also tailing the wife of another surfer buddy who suspects an affair. It's an ugly matter because the answer is yes, and the guy is a big-time soil engineer. Boone gets into deeper and deadlier water as the two cases overlap, and much more than his next good day at the beach is in jeopardy. VERDICT This sequel to Winslow's Dawn Patrol is more than just a snappy summertime thriller written with hip surfer dude dialog. It's a thoughtful cultural commentary about an iconic coastal community with too much money, constant sunshine, and terminal greed. [See Prepub Alert, 2/21/11.]—Susan Clifford Braun, Bainbridge Island, WA
The Southern California kingpin of the surf-and-drugs thriller should extend his popular domain with this novel.
Those who discovered Winslow with his breakthrough Savages (2010) have some catching up to do. This sequel to The Dawn Patrol (2008) receives belated American publication a couple of years after it was issued in Britain, with both its colorful characters and narrative propulsion suggesting that there's a series in the works. Protagonist Boone Daniels lives to surf and works when he has to, as a private investigator, after leaving the San Diego police force because of a moral quandary. His former police colleague Johnny Banzai remains one of his best friends, and the two are charter members of "the Dawn Patrol," the surfing elite who hit the waves early, before "the gentlemen's hour" brings an older generation of surfing veterans to the beach. The senseless murder of an international surfing guru by a drunken punk threatens the bond of Boone and his fellow Dawn Patrollers, and Johnny in particular, once the private investigator comes to suspect that police coerced a false confession from their reviled suspect, and that eyewitness testimony is shaky as well. The lawyer girlfriend who has involved Boone in the case says that he sees "surfing as some sort of pristine moral universe," though those waters get awfully murky, as the plot comes to envelop white supremacists, land-shark real-estate developers, crooked geologists, ultimate-fighting thugs and the inevitable Mexican drug cartel. By the end, what had begun as a senseless fatality (spiced with a bit of adultery as a side case) threatens to blow the entire power structure of San Diego to bits.
A former private investigator with an encyclopedic knowledge of the seamier side of Southern California, Winslow occasionally lays on the surf argot a little too thick ("I want to move under you like that ocean you love so much"), but his combination of social commentary and breathless action packs a wallop.
“Escape at its finest . . . Pick it up and watch out for that undertow.” —Alan Cheuse, The Dallas Morning News
“A down-and-dirty dip into the treacherous social currents of Southern California.” —Tom Nolan, The Wall Street Journal
“Winslow defies description as a writer . . . the literary equivalent of the perfect wave.” —Jon Land, Providence Journal
The Gentlemen’s Hour is yet another sensational foray into the underbelly of San Diego with laidback PI Boone Daniels.” —James Ellroy, The Guardian