The first Don Winslow novel I read was The Winter of Frankie Machine, which was an enjoyable, if predictably-by-the-numbers crime tale of machismo, venting, and convenience. The Dawn Patrol, which happens to be Winslow’s next published novel, is even more an enjoyable read as he gets away from the typical gang-crime-hitman genre and focuses on a bunch of SoCal surfers.
One of those surfers who happens to be a low-rent, ex-cop, incredibly-broke, driving-a-beater-van PI, because crime fiction.
But he’s fun.
Boone Daniels, surfer-by-day, PI-by-night, is an entertaining character, who makes for an easy read, as are his surfing buddies, the self-entitled Dawn Patrol. Winslow takes his time building out and developing each member, giving them stories behind their casual, beach sobriquets, masterfully dropping them into – and pulling them out of – the story, ebbing and flowing as it were.
Boone is hired by a knockout (of course) attorney, to locate a stripper (of course), but the convenience factor really stops there, save for the inclusion of Red Eddie, a gangster who has all of the plot-necessary connections. This story though, like the waves the surfers all talk about, is not always smooth and actually gets quite rough deep into the read as the stripper-on-the-lam plot gets deadly dark and infuriatingly serious.
Boone surfs through it all, along with the expected wipeout. What makes the story fun is seeing how he gets back up on the board.