Don Winslow: The Kings of Cool

by Jennifer Bryce

Don Winslow: The Kings of Cool

This is described as a prequel to Savages, a book I haven’t read. I won’t go rushing to it but I was intrigued by and admiring of Winslow’s writing. It’s a kind of family saga set in a world of drugs, crime and crooked cops. In other words, we meet a trio of mates looking for a house in which to cultivate pot and then gradually we meet the 1960s surfy/ hippies who were most likely their parents – there is much activity around a 1960s cave commune. The book ends with the crooked cop expressing envy for the young drug ‘kings’. There is so much pointing barrels of guns at people’s heads that at one point I thought that everyone was going to be dead by the end of the story. What carried the book for me was the extraordinary writing. Mainly sharp prose, using a new paragraph for emphasis:

And now she sees that she’s ready to go looking – hunting, really

for a better life.

Kim has a plan. (p. 111)

Sometimes the narrative is written as a play, with a courier font, which  reminded me that Scott Fitzgerald does this.

Sometimes it is like poetry. A complete ‘chapter’ reads:

Who knows


faith cracks or


the river of time eating away at its banks until it just


Looks sudden.

Isn’t. (pp106-7)

Winslow’s style of writing interested me more than the ‘high-octane’ world he creates.