Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Review: A COOL BREEZE ON THE UNDERGROUND by Don Winslow

A Cool Breeze on the Underground (Neal Carey, #1)From the back of the book:
Carey is not your usual private eye. A graduate student at Columbia University, he grew up on the streets of New York, usually on the wrong side of the law. Then he met Joe Graham, a one-armed PI who introduced him to the Bank, an exclusive New England institution with a sideline in keeping its wealthy clients happy and out of trouble. The Bank wants Neal to put his skills to work in finding Allie Chase, the rebellious teenage daughter of a prominent senator, an assignment that takes Neal to London's underground punk scene, a violent netherworld where drugs run rampant and rage is the name of the game.

My Review:
Despite being written by Don Winslow (SAVAGES, POWER OF THE DOG etc.) the first book in the Neal Carey PI series doesn't read like a Don Winslow book. At least not initially.

I think too much emphasis was placed on developing Neal Carey's origin; the finer points to honing his craft as a deft private detective who could easily turn cat burglar or stalker extraordinaire. His relationship with Joe Graham, a one-armed PI who recruited Carey into the secret association, understandably added context to the present day setting, yet, this combined with extensive skills training did have a tendency to detract from what was really an entertaining and page-turning plot.

As a side note of interest, I love books that bring books in general into context within the main story and Winslow does just that here by using a rare book worth 20k to a collector as a means of introducing one of his character's into the world of drug running - where crime and fiction collide.

I got the feeling Winslow was just developing his voice in crime fiction yet A COOL BREEZE ON THE UNDERGROUND is no amateur feat. The dialogue is sharp, the characters have a voice of their own, and the plot is pretty damn good. With a couple nice twists to keep things interesting, A COOL BREEZE ON THE UNDERGROUND has me wanting to rush out and grab a copy of the follow-up in THE TRAIL TO BUDDHA'S WINDOW, the second book to feature Neal Carey.

Related Posts:

- Friday Finds (15 Aug 2014)

- Review: THE POWER OF THE DOG by Don Winslow

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