Dawn Patrol by Don Winslow

I’ve read (listened to) a few of Don Winslow’s books over the years,  staring with
“A Cool Breeze on the Underground” (1991),  and have generally been entertained – they’re kind of fun except for The Cartel which is just flat amazing –  a literary thriller of sorts.  Dawn Patrol was on sale and so I took a shot.

Dawn Patrol
by Don Winslow
2008 / 320 pages
read by Ray Porter – 9h 37m
Rating :    B-   crime
(#1 in the Boone Daniels series of 2 books)


It took me  awhile to get into this book – several reasons –  the setting is Pacific Beach, a San Diego area community where surfing has been a huge draw for generations.  Boone Daniels is a committed surfer and part-time private detective with a number of colorful friends and associates.    One day  a gorgeous attorney named Petra shows up to hire Boone to locate a stripper who has disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

Meanwhile,  a woman later assumed to be the stripper Boone and Petra are seeking has been thrown off a balcony of a nearby motel – this is the prologue – in what looks like a suicide but possibly a murder.   Petra and Boone know this is not their stripper but if the cops want to believe it is well …

The story  tries for some good suspense with colorful but potentially violent characters,  short chapters with cliff-hanger endings,  alternating scenarios and points of view, and dangerous chase cuts.  But the background stories on various characters and the setting undercuts the suspense and the story drags a bit – there’s also a huge element of comic dialogue and other antics so the suspense may not be entirely the point. But it’s  hugely atmospheric and succeeds in that,  with me anyway – a California girl (who managed to surf one time).    Another point in its favor,  the plot gets nicely twisted.   I must simply be missing the high tension  which has taken over the crime genre in recent years.

Still,  in spite of all that – it’s entertaining in its own way although I’m not sure it knows what it is.  It may be a love letter to surfing culture through the years including the demise and some nostalgia and anger  – what it is today (2008 anyway).    Highway One is the Highway to Heaven?  –