2012-The Gentlemen's Hour

The Gentlemen's Hour, by Don Winslow ($15)

Dude, this is a most excellent follow-up to The Dawn Patrol. Macking, even.

Returning to a lighter, more humorous style than the dark pieces he has been writing lately (e.g., Savages), Don Winslow brings us another story in the life of surf bum and private eye Boone Daniels.

Besides the Peter Pan-like boardriders, San Diego is home to Mexican drug cartels, real estate con men, American drug crazies, white supremacists, and lots of rich people. Boone awkwardly finds himself working on behalf of the defense team for the alleged killer of Kelly Kuhio. "K2" was an inspiration to many and a mentor to Boone, yet Boone is convinced that Corey Blasingame -- a spoiled, nasty little rich kid -- is innocent of murdering Kelly. In the process, Boone manages to entangle himself with all of the aforementioned groups.

Complicating matters is another murder, this time it's the lover of the wife of another surfer. Boone had been hired by Dan Nichols to determine if his wife was having an affair. Soon after telling Dan the bad news, Boone learns that the lover has been murdered.

His involvement in the two murders puts Boone on the outs with the rest of the surfing community, including best friend and fellow surfer Johnny "Banzai" Kodani, the homicide detective in charge of both cases. Despite the alienation, Boone trudges forward, convinced that K2 himself would have urged Boone to trust his instincts.

"Gentlemen's Hour" refers to the second surf shift. Boone usually hangs out with the Dawn Patrol crew, the younger, more competitive surfers. The surfers of the Gentlemen's Hour are laid back, older. When Boone is shunned by his own crew, he begins to hang with the older men, a sad endnote to Boone's surfing days, he thinks.

Winslow's story races merrily along, but it's not all about the plot. There are wonderfully colorful characters, including a couple of villains. I defy you not to enjoy the characterizations of Red Eddie, a good old, relocated Hawaiian boy who's the head of a dangerous mob, and his henchmen. Boone's reminiscences of Kelly carry the story into more tender philosophical regions. The "Surfbonics" that the Dawn Patrol uses in their conversations is amusing and gives a good sense of community.

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