oddmonster (oddmonster) wrote,

As a fire investigator, Bentley makes a great fisherman.

# 20: California Fire and Life - Don Winslow:
So even though Casey has Paul Gordon, the biggest, baddest plaintiff's attorney in Southern California in his office yelling about Armageddon, Casey is not exactly pissing his pants. This is because Casey is the biggest, baddest, defense attorney in the Southern Bear Flag Republic.

What you got here -- if you're a connoisseur of multimillion-dollar bad faith litigation -- is you have the heavyweight championship of the world.

Gordon v. Casey.

You could make a mint from the pay-per-view rights just selling to attorneys who'd watch it in the hopes that they'll actually kill each other.

Funny thing is they're in the same office complex.
Synopsis: You don't have to love California to read this book...but it helps

Jack Wade (whose name is nearly as awesome as Dirk Pitt!) is a fire investigator with a shady past who's content to just surf and investigate suspicious fires. Like the one that killed Pamela Vale (wife of multimillionaire Russian Nicky Vale) and a houseful of antique furniture, but not their dog Leo.

This last bit is important because the thought that Leo might not survive the whole book kept me on page 127 for like, a week* and nearly didn't finish the book on account of that.

Which would have been a tragic mistake.

Here is what I liked about the book: it depicts a California I recognize. Not the multimillionaire Vale and his wack-ass furniture collection or the AA for Ladies Who (Formerly Drank) Lunch, but in the rag-tag, multi-ethnic collection of scammers, grifters, law enforcement agents and security guards, pharmacy tellers, secretaries and truck drivers and everyone who spends each and every drought-filled summer wondering if or when those hills are gonna burn. It's a textured scene that makes the state work for me, and I'm not surprised at all to see this particular book made the LA Times' fiction finalists poll for Favorite Books About L.A.

It's a doozy.

There's a lot of fuckery. A lot of it. Everyone's got something to hide, and they're very very serious with their hiding.

Also, boy howdy can Winslow write. I know he got a lot of acclaim in the recent past for his new release, Savages, but I also know part of that was for the famed first chapter of that book, which consisted of exactly two words, neither of which, amazingly, were "Happy" or "Birthday". He's just not that kind of happy fellow.

But he is a great writer, with a distinctive style that let me easily rip through 300 pages in a night.

He's a master of the bon mot noir, the one gritty line that pulls everything together (such as the title of this entry, or describing a high-end California closet as not a walk-in, but a "hike-in") but he's also able to startle and, quite frankly, puzzle. I was never entirely sure where this book was going next. Not just because of the number of double-crosses, but because Winslow is doing interesting things with POV-switch and chapter-length and about a half-dozen other things I'd need to go back to school to even begin to talk about.

So I won't. But I will highly recommend this book.

*I am here to tell you: the dog is just fine. Everyone else is in the shit, but the dog is okay!
Tags: books, books of win, crime fiction

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