If any of you dedicated crime novel fans—and you know who you are—have been on the verge of cracking open a Don Winslow crime novel or, even better, if you do not yet know of Winslow’s work, then The Dawn Patrol, now out in paperback from Vintage Crime, is a perfect point of entry. Winslow has been laboring away for years, producing taut, realistic novels in the mystery and crime genre. Think of George Higgins’ The Friends of Eddie Coyle, or of Elmore Leonard’s Detroit novels such as 52 Pick-Up, but with a more modern, sun-baked sensibility. I originally heard about Winslow from friends in Britain, where Winslow’s work first caught fire. I have read several since, starting with Winslow’s powerhouse Mexican drug crime thriller The Power of the Dog. But the recent success of The Dawn Patrol could make Winslow’s name a household word.
The Dawn Patrol tells the story of sometime private investigator and full-time surfer, Boone Daniels. Boone’s beat—both as a surfer and as a private eye—is the beach and surf community around San Diego. This is territory Winslow knows well—he is a former private investigator and recreational surfer himself—and he brings Boone Daniels’ world alive with a sense of authenticity that is critical to the crime novel genre.
Winslow takes us inside the eponymous “Dawn Patrol,” a tight knit bunch of hard core surfers who habitually catch the first waves of the morning off of one of San Diego’s best local surf breaks. They are a motley crew of stoners, cops, criminals, dreamers, and strivers and Boone Daniels is their capo and their conscience. Winslow takes the reader right into the surf with the Dawn Patrol without getting washed out—a feat few have matched. This is the best surf novel since Kem Nunn’s classic Tapping the Source.
When Boone Daniels gets an assignment to track down a missing witness in an insurance scam, he dives into a case where nothing is as it seems, no one can be trusted, and all roads lead back to his Dawn Patrol buddies and rivals. His search forces him to make some tough choices and some definitive ones. But, for the reader who wants an entertaining, fast-paced crime novel, with a sense of humor and a heart, the choice is easy—pick up The Dawn Patrol and you will be hooked.