The early books of Don Winslow give a fascinating insight into the development of his style but also the stories he wanted to tell. So much of Don Winslow’s recent work has centered around the drug trade, big and small, in San Diego and Mexico. The Neal Carey series however is much more global. A Cool Breeze on the Underground took us to London of the 70s and in the second book in the series we get deeply entrenched in China.
We pick up Neal Carey still in England, lying low, after the events of the previous book. But Carey is not allowed to remain idle for too long. A new job soon awaits him. One that seems pretty straight forward but quickly sees Neal caught in a web of lies, intrigue and worst of all love. Things go from bad to worse for Neal as he botches the initial job before getting disavowed and tangled up in Triads, Communists and the CIA. And that’s not even the worst of it.
Hong Kong and mainland China are not just exotic settings for Winslow to take his story. He has an in depth knowledge of the history of both places that he weaves expertly into a thrilling plot. And after reading this it is of even lesser surprise that Don Winslow wrote Satori a few years ago.
Neal Carey is a fantastic hero. He is far from your traditional PI, more book smart than street smart but enough street smarts to survive (but not enough to stay out of trouble). And he has to rely on his smarts because he doesn’t have the brawn to fight his way out of a paper bag. Throw in his unusual upbringing and you have a nicely complicated character. Looking forward to reading more in the series.
Open Road, December 2010