The Force by Don Winslow


Sergeant Denny Malone can't remember when he crossed the line, but he knows there's no going back. It's a familiar moral conundrum; still the manner in which it is lived (and suffered) through by Malone over the course of this brisk and rivetingly visceral book makes Don Winslow's 'The Force' essential reading for crime fans - or indeed, anyone curious about the genre. Even in a crime fiction landscape already packed with grizzled, taciturn dudes, Malone carves a lonely path. Lacking the cunning of a Bosch or Rebus, Malone aproaches obstacles with the subtlety of a human battering ram. And yet, in contrast to the superhuman capacity for violence and emotional detachment exhibited by a Jack Reacher-type hero, Malone is capable of genuine human relationships. Indeed, it's these relationships (particularly those between Malone and his fellow cops - his second family) that give rise to the moral questions that drive the action. Many reviewers have drawn comparisons between this book and Mario Puzo's classic mafia-themed novels. The comparison is apt, if only because it raises the question of how the members of a particular moral tribe (whether this applies to the crooks or the cops) attempt to justify their actions as a necessary means of 'protecting their own'. As Winslow's book shows, such justifications can only go so far; at some point, the things we do to protect others from the consequences of our mistakes risk alienating us from those same people entirely. Will Denny Malone heed this lesson before it's too late? Pick up a copy and find out!

- Dan