REVIEW: THE FORCE By Don Winslow

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Published June 20th by William Morrow

Our ends know our beginnings, but the reverse isn’t true …All Denny Malone wants is to be a good cop. He is the “King of Manhattan North,” a highly decorated NYPD detective sergeant and the real leader of “Da Force.” Malone and his crew are the smartest, the toughest, the quickest, the bravest, and the baddest–an elite special unit given carte blanche to fight gangs, drugs, and guns. Every day and every night for the eighteen years he’s spent on the “Job,” Malone has served on the front lines, witnessing the hurt, the dead, the victims, the perps. He’s done whatever it takes to serve and protect in a city built by ambition and corruption, where no one is clean.What only a few know is that Denny Malone himself is dirty. 

******

Is it possible that July has brought me my top read of 2017? It’s very likely unless something else truly phenomenal comes along between now and Dec 31 to knock this blockbuster off it’s perch on the tippy top of my top reads shelf. There’s definitely a reason this was published in June because this is the perfect summer read to take to the beach, pool or patio. A crime thriller is the perfect summer read you may be asking? Oh yes, just ask Time, Amazon, The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Newsday, Miami-Herald and more since they all named The Force a must read this summer. Just don’t forget to slather on your sunscreen because once you start reading this addicting saga of a police thriller you’ll forget everything else!

The blurb above tells you all you need to know about Sgt. Denny Malone, “King” of The Manhattan North Special Task Force. He’ll be the first to also tell you (repeatedly so) that he’s a hero cop.  You see, Denny narrates the story, first in the prologue where he tells us he’s in a federal jail cell and then throughout the rest of the novel (he details what led to him being in federal jail) as we get an inside, front row, in your face perspective of Denny’s often harsh, racist observations and illegal actions along with his searing rationalizations of why he’s turned dirty. There are no narrative tricks or multiple points of view in the telling of this story. Winslow grabs you immediately with acute observations, single line sentences, short paragraphs and dialogue that snaps, crackles and pops so fast your head will spin and your eyes will barely be able to keep up. THIS is how you tell a story and that’s what makes this book so utterly fantastic! Let me pause here and say the writing is by no means always perfect. There were times I was caught off guard by weird grammatical sentence structures but guess what…I didn’t care…not at all because the storytelling that Winslow weaves is can’t-put-it-down-brilliant. 

I feel like I may have moved into gushing territory so let me try to sum up the gist of the story with one word….corruption. EVERYONE in this book is corrupt in one way or another and let me tell you…the police, the ADA’s, the mayor, the defense lawyers, the criminals, the junkies, the wives, the church, even Internal Affairs…all dirty.  Boy does this make for some fascinating, suspense filled reading as you’re never quite sure who’s going to turn on who at any given point. You know from the prologue that things go wrong for Denny at some point but there’s a whole lot of double crossing, killing, lying and cheating to get him there.  I should add a side note here: if you’re offended by  graphic violence and language this isn’t the book for you. I wanted to share some of the writing style with you and it took me awhile to find sections without the “f” word. Here’s a great example of Denny and his thinking as he’s meeting with a prosecutor to prep for his testimony in the trial of a violent drug dealer….

     ‘Just tell the truth and get the conviction” Hinman said.

     “Which?” Malone asked.

     “What do you mean?”

     “I mean”, Malone said, “I can tell the truth or I can get the conviction. Which do you want?” 

   “Both,” Hitman said. 

   “You can’t have both.”

    Because if he told the truth, they’d lose the case because Malone had no warrant and no probable cause to enter the apartment …the dealer would walk. Because the real truth that they both know is that without cops “testilying,” the DA’s office would hardly get any convictions at all. This doesn’t bother Malone.

Truth, justice and the American way. 

The American way is, truth and justice maybe say hello in the hallway, send each other a Christmas card, but that’s about the extent of their relationship.

Accurate? We’ll never know but Don Winslow spent years researching this book, interviewing hundreds of cops, rookies and veterans alike, so this kind of makes you say hmmm doesn’t it? There’s so much that’s relevant and timely in this sprawling novel that you’ll find yourself often shaking your head but there’s one thing you won’t be able to do and that’s stop reading. Winslow expertly managed to keep me in the dark about how this cinematic thriller would turn out and right up until the final few paragraphs I thought it might end the way I hoped. Surprise was on me. As I said Monday, if you like movies like The Town, The Firm, and The Untouchables and the tv show The Sopranos you’ll LOVE this book. Now I’m off to continue casting the movie (March 1, 2019!) in my head… Henry Cavill sure looks like a good Denny Malone.

Many thanks to William Morrow for my copy via a Goodreads Giveaway

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40 thoughts on “REVIEW: THE FORCE By Don Winslow

      1. You’re welcome! I’m definitely moving it up on my list. I’m planning to get through the ARC books I’m behind on from being sick, etc, so I can get them reviewed then I plan on reading Goodbye, Vitamin and several others high on my TBR list 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      1. And I’m kicking myself for not reading more of his books now, since it’s been a long time since my first experience with his work… Definitely need to work on that. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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