Nebraska Center for Writers

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About Don Winslow


California Fire and Life (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Copyright © 2001
by Don Winslow
Ballantine P

An insurance claims investigator, Jack Wade speaks the language of fire. He can walk into charred remains and know where the flames ignited and why. Now Jack is investigating a claim he knows isn't just fraudulent, it's murder.
The house was a multi million-dollar beauty looking out over the Pacific. The woman died in her bedroom, her alcohol-soaked blood baked on to a $350,000 canopied bed. It's a case Jack could turn away from but won't — because old scores need to be settled. So Jack takes the plunge into a world of crime, ambition, and evil he never knew existed under the bright California sun. And for Jack, getting out again is going to mean fighting fire with fire. ... — from the publisher

Winslow's knowledge of his subject and his territory, and the narrative's rapid pace, keep the entertainment value at steady flame. — Publishers Weekly

Winslow, an experienced investigator himself, has penned a focused, street-smart tale in which Jack Wade has to experience the truth within himself before he can solve his case. This one is tough as nails and entertaining as hell. — Booklist

The whole story reads like a house afire — a real barn-burner. — Kirkus Reviews

Intriguing and suspenseful. — The San Diego Union-Tribune

[A] jazzy California thriller ... Think Philip Marlowe if he were still sleuthing — and had taken up surfing. — Entertainment Weekly (Editor's Choice)

The Death and Life of Bobby Z
Copyright © 1998
by Don Winslow
Ivy Books

When born loser Tim Kearney murdered a Hell's Angel, he didn't have a choice. Now, sentenced to life without parole in a prison full of the Angel's vengeful buddies, he doesn't have a chance.
Then the Feds make him an offer: impersonate the late, legendary drug lord Bobby Z and allow himself to be delivered to a Mexican kingpin in exchange for a kidnapped agent. If the deal goes down, Tim can walk away a free man. But when the swap turns bloody, Tim runs — straight into the luxurious, chaotic, hair-raising, and very hazardous life of Bobby Z. ... — from the publisher

Frantic and funny." --The New York Times Book Review

It has whiplash speed, deliciously sleazoid characters, and a major attitude problem. What a blast. — Carl Hiaasen

One of the funniest and fastest-moving novels in recent years. The action is relentless, the characters wild. — San Diego Union-Tribune

Fast-paced ... full of explosive action and deliciously evil characters. — Chicago Tribune

Packs the wallop of a semiautomatic weapon. — Newsday

... Cinematic pacing, potent irony and great escapes. Make this one of yours. — People

Winslow juggles black humor, excellent dialog, and numerous plot twists with the ease of an accomplished veteran. Sure to be popular, this novel is recommended most fiction collections. — Library Journal

This is a profane, hilarious, wildly implausible novel that deserves to be a big hit. — Booklist

Fast and funny. — Kirkus Reviews

The Power of the Dog
Copyright © 2005
by Don Winslow
Alfred a Knopf

From Don Winslow ("A writer so good you almost want to keep him to yourself" — Ian Rankin), an electrifying new novel of love and revenge, politics and influence, corruption and honor. Moving at breakneck speed, it tells a riveting, sometimes harrowing story set in the shifting nexus of power among the Latin American drug cartels, the American mob, and the US government.
Spanning the years from the rise of the Mexican drug Federación in the 1970s to the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s to the vicious drug wars of the 1990s, the action ranges from Manhattan’s Hell's Kitchen and the halls of Washington to the streets of Tijuana and the deserts of the American Southwest.
The players: a DEA agent, a drug lord, a call girl, a hit man, a priest. Caught up in the war on drugs, willingly or not, each is trying to escape the sins of the past while negotiating the treacherous currents of the present. Their seemingly disparate lives — taking shape on one side of the law or the other, or straddling both — slowly converge as they struggle to overcome, in any way possible, the "power of the dog."
From the jungles of Latin America to the vicious netherworld of the California–Mexico border, this is the war on drugs you haven't seen — its devastations and deliriums, its alliances and betrayals, its pawns and kings.
A masterpiece of epic storytelling, The Power of the Dog is Don Winslow at the very top of his form. — from the publisher

This book comes at you like a champion boxer, deft and probing, and bristling with menace. Aiming for both the head and the gut, it connects solidly with every punch. — Dan Fesperman

The Power of the Dog is the most compelling crime novel I've read in several years. It's sharply written, vertiginously fast, and best of all it's about something. In the unholy trinity of narcotics, dollars and politics Winslow has located our heart of darkness. This is a spectacular novel, disturbing and unforgettable. — T Jefferson Parker

With an epic's scope and a freight train's rush, The Power of the Dog is an absolute page-turner. I couldn't put it down and I was sorry when it ended. As always, Don Winslow delivers! — SJ Rozan

From the heart-wrenching very first sentence I was hooked. A soaring, blazing saga of the real drug world, it is masterly, moving, and compassionate: an instant classic. It's been a long wait since Winslow's wondrous California Fire and Life. Was it worth the wait? Was it ever, and then some. — Ken Bruen

Don Winslow's The Power of the Dog is a great read. Intricate, powerful, and fierce, it takes the reader into the moral labyrinth of the international drug trade and the men who lose their souls along the way. Winslow's knowledge and insight have never been more fully realized. I believed every word of it. — Robert Ferrigno

The Power of the Dog is a steaming cauldron of crime, corruption, and cabals, an epic of Godfather proportions with just enough fact sprinkled into the stew to make this one fabulous fable. — Andrew Vachss

The Power of the Dog is the first great dope novel since Dog Soldiers thirty years ago. It's frightening and sad, with a superbly sustained intensity. It's a beautifully compressed vision of hell, with all its attendant moral madness. — James Ellroy

The war on drugs is powerfully dramatized in Winslow's ambitious, dense and gritty latest. ... Winslow's depth of research and unflagging attention to detail give the story both heft and immediacy, and his staccato, present-tense prose shifts easily among wildly disparate settings and multiple points of view. A complex plot, well-drawn characters and plenty of double-crossing make this a thinking person's narco-thriller. — Publishers Weekly

Winslow ... once again offers a crime novel with breakneck pacing, a sardonic worldview, and a teeming cast of superheated characters. .. Intricate plotting and manic energy power this page-turner. — Booklist

Savages: A Novel
Copyright © 2010
by Don Winslow
Simon & Schuster

Savages is Don Winslow’s best book yet — a wickedly funny and smart novel, with a ripped-from-the-headlines story that gets your pulse racing as the action unfolds. Razor-sharp plot twists, a cast of ruthless antiheroes, and of course, Winslow’s superb, adrenaline-fueled prose make this scorching, drug-infused thriller an addictive and entertaining read. — Janet Evanovich

A spellbinding, tour de force that is utterly impossible to put down. Savages is, bar none, the finest novel I have read in years. — Christopher Reich, author of Numbered Account and Rules of Deception

Wake up people — Winslow’s the real deal. — James Ellroy on The Gentlemen's Hour

Spare, clipped expository prose and hip, spot-on dialogue propel this visceral crime novel. ... Winslow's encyclopedic knowledge of the border drug trade lends authenticity. — Publishers Weekly

*Starred Review* Edgar nominee and Shamus winner Winslow, who first evoked the violent world of the Mexican drug cartels in the best-selling narco-thriller Power of the Dog (2005), dispenses short chapters that drive his plot breathlessly forward. He also serves up plenty of savage wit. ... Riddled with bullets and splattered with blood, Savages is not for the squeamish, but it’s a must for Winslow fans. — Booklist

Savages will jolt Mr Winslow into a different league ... [his] most boisterously stylish crime book, his gutsiest and most startling bid for attention. ... full of wild-card moves. ... its wisecracks are so sharp, its characters so mega-cool and its storytelling so ferocious that the risks pay off, thanks especially to Mr. Winslow's no-prisoners sense of humor. ... The Winslow effect is to fuse the grave and the playful, the body blow and the joke, the nightmare and the pipe dream. — Janet Maslin, The New York Times

An ultra-lean, stoner thriller….It packs a dynamic plot, sentences dripping with ``baditude'' and a singular way with language….Winslow's writing has the vigor of action painting….[his] command of vernacular is fabulous, his eye for detail sharp….Winslow's insights into drug wars are provocative, his descriptions of marijuana tantalizing. — Carlo Wolff, The Boston Globe

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