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Don Winslow’s SAVAGES

“How can you account for people doing something so…savage?”

“Easy-they’re savages”

Whether it’s Afghanistan, Iraq, Mexico or Southern California there are savages everywhere.

There is nothing quite like a Don Winslow novel. THE POWER OF THE DOG would have to be one of the greatest crime thrillers of the last ten years. An epic novel covering thirty years of the drug war on the Mexican/US border from all sides; DEA, Mexican Drug Cartels, CIA and the Mafia. The good guys are bad, the bad guys are good. If you haven’t read it shutdown your computer right now and run out and grab a copy. Seriously.

I enjoyed Winslow’s last two books, THE DAWN PATROL and THE GENTLEMAN’S HOUR, (although I think Boone Daniels only warranted one book not two) so I was very excited that SAVAGES returns to Power of the Dog territory. It is not in the same epic mould as THE POWER OF THE DOG, more in the vein of THE DEATH AND LIFE OF BOBBY Z which I think is classic Winslow but was turned into a truly horrific film.

Savagery is the central theme of the book (subtle, I know) and Winslow has obvious fun with it. The story centers on Ben and Chon, two small time but richly successful marijuana dealers in Southern California. Their high quality product catches the eye of a Mexican Drug Cartel which is eager for new business away from a messy territory war against the other drug cartels in Mexico. Ben and Chon offer to retire but that wasn’t an option provided and the stakes quickly escalate out of control.

[on a side note there are two Don Winslows. One is a crime writer and the other writes erotic fiction. The crime writing Don Winslow swears they are two different people but after some scenes in SAVAGES I’m having serious doubts!]

Winslow is one of those writers who you know is laughing and having just as much fun writing his books as you are reading them. The pace of the book is furious and while they are talking this book up as Oliver Stone’s next project I think the wit, fun, violence and sex just won’t translate to film. I am still waiting for HBO to make a ten part mini-series of THE POWER OF THE DOG. That would be awesome.

SAVAGES isn’t Winslow’s breakout novel. For me he’s already broken out and just waiting for everyone else to catch up. Winslow has had great success and support in Australia and the UK but seems to have slipped under the radar in the US (although every crime writer and reviewer over there knows how good he is). His last book  THE GENTLEMAN’S HOUR still hasn’t been published there and he has subsequently changed publishers. Hopefully he’ll get the publicity he deserves and the secret can spread.

In Australia the secret is well and truly out and Winslow has again delivered a superb sharp and shocking thriller that is, well, beautifully savage.

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