Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Review: "Savages" by Don Winslow

Ben and Chon are tremendously successful marijuana kingpins in Laguna Beach, CA. But they're not your average, run-of-the-mill drug lords: Ben is a philosopher and philanthropist, who spends most of his money saving the world, while ex-Navy SEAL Chon is the muscle and the attitude (or baditude) behind the operation. Things seem to be fairly copacetic; they've fended off challenges to their territory without running afoul of the law, and each has a successful relationship with Ophelia (aka O), a somewhat flighty yet fiercely loyal Valley Girl.

And then Ben and Chon are approached by the Baja Cartel, a powerful Mexican cartel, which has decided they want Ben and Chon to work for them. They run afoul of the cartel's leader, Elena "La Reina" (the Queen) Lauter, and O gets abducted by Elena's minions, who promise to return O unharmed—for $20 million. How Ben and Chon choose to obtain the remaining funds they need proves to be tremendously ingenious—and has repercussions for everyone.

I'm a huge Don Winslow fan, both of his stand-alone books and his Neal Carey series that includes A Cool Breeze on the Underground. And while I enjoyed the characters and the plot of this story, for some reason Winslow abandoned his usual writing style for an Elmore Leonard-esque, surfer-boy style that I never quite warmed up to. It really undercut the story because while I found myself completely immersed in the plot, the narrative style really irritated me. Hopefully Winslow won't continue this in his next book. But stoner language and structure notwithstanding, this is really enjoyable.

1 comment:

  1. It took me a little while to adjust to the free-flow-train of thought - prose Winslow uses in Savages, but once I got used to it, what a ride! A fast-paced plot, sometimes funny, most of the times gritty and violent, with an ending that is now etched forever in my mind. In comparison with "Power of the Dog", "Savages" is rather a short story, but great in its own right.