Broken
PublisherHarperCollins
Date Published16 April 2020
 
 
ISBN-100008377421
ISBN-13978-0008377427
Formathardcover
Pages352
Price£ 20.00

Broken

by Don Winslow

Six short stories set in the US featuring people on the wrong side of the law and those who oppose them.


Review

Don Winslow is the author of more than 20 books featuring in particular police in the US, and drug gangs in Mexico. This collection comprises six stories, all between 50 and 60 pages, set in Hawaii, New Orleans, but mainly on the California coast. In brief masterful strokes he breathes life into a variety of characters, all engaged in distinctly high-octane activities.

In Broken, Irish New Orleans detective Jimmy McNabb and his team swoop on a meth warehouse and Jimmy takes delight in baiting the dealer. The dealer takes it personally and exacts a terrible penalty. Jimmy, incandescent with rage, forces a showdown.

Crime 101 (For Mr Steve McQueen) pits a clever jewellery thief against a laid-back detective whose theory of a lone wolf finds little support amongst his colleagues. You find yourself rooting for both and hoping that the author can produce an ending that will resolve their differences without one of them having to lose.

The San Diego Zoo (For Mr Elmore Leonard) stars a rookie cop looking to get onto the robbery squad, advancement not assisted when he is filmed coming off second best to a chimp who has escaped from the zoo. This is very funny but at the same time you come to appreciate the sensitivity of a new recruit who has to step carefully and avoid humiliating colleagues if he wants to progress.

A surfer dude who has outlived his fame is targeted by bail bondsmen in Sunset (For Mr Raymond Chandler). This is a business soon to pass into history apparently, and the story takes a sentimental look at several guys approaching the end of their careers, but with a lifetime of experience.

Ben, Chon and O are a cool trio of cannabis entrepreneurs from California who have previously appeared in their own full-length novel. In Paradise, they visit Hawaii to explore business opportunities and have a little problem with the locals.

The Last Ride ends the collection, with the story of a US border guard who finds it impossible to turn his back on a young Salvadoran migrant who has become separated from her mother. The reaction of the various security agencies highlights the cynical nature of US policy; in contrast the determination of the guard to do the right thing is very moving.

Winslow is an excellent writer and an absolute joy to read. All the stories are told in the present tense, with great dialogue. The author’s dedications come as no surprise, as his enthusiasm for their work is plainly evident. There is plenty of action in every story, along with humour and pathos – the author has a way of getting to the mainspring of his characters with great economy. For anyone who has not come across Winslow before this would be an excellent place to start.

Reviewed 21 November 2020 by Chris Roberts