Don Winslow Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Don Winslow, like many writers, has converted significant autobiographical events into fiction. Winslow’s life encompasses considerable occupational and geographical territory. His interesting, if checkered, earlier career has provided a wealth of material related to crimes of domestic and international scope, has given him an expanded worldview, and has lent him a dry, sardonic wit that informs much of his work. His stints as undercover agent, private investigator, hostage simulator, fraud and arson analyst, safari leader, and freelance consultant have brought him into contact with a wide range of criminal and law enforcement types that he delineates with unerring accuracy, and he writes about the work involved with unquestioned authority.

Not yet a household name, Winslow has elicited an enviable degree of critical acclaim for his novels and a collaborative nonfictional work. His first novel, A Cool Breeze on the Underground (1991), which introduced private investigator Neal Carey, gained an Edgar Award nomination. California Fire and Life (1999) garnered a Shamus Award for best novel. The Power of the Dog (2004) was nominated for a Macavity Award and for Deadly Pleasure magazine’s Barry Award. His nonfictional collaborative effort Looking for a Hero: Staff Sergeant Ronnie Hooper and the Vietnam War (2004) attracted considerable attention for its unflinching portrait of the tempestuous life of a real soldier. His The Death and Life of Bobby Z (1997) was made into a feature film in 2007, and his The Winter of Frankie Machine (2006) has been optioned.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Mobilio, Albert. “An Insurance-Business Thriller? Actually, Yes.” Reviw of California Fire and Life, by Don Winslow. Fortune 144, no. 4 (August 16, 1999): 44. A highly favorable review in which the critic notes that Winslow spent many years working with arson investigators, giving the story—dealing with former police officer and claims adjuster Jack Wade—the ring of authenticity. The author is praised for his skill in presenting factual information, his smooth style, and his many plot turns that keep readers guessing.

Publishers Weekly. Review of A Cool Breeze on the Underground, by Don Winslow. 238, no. 2 (January 11, 1991): 94. A mixed review of the author’s first novel. Though praised for its colorful characters, the novel is criticized for its lack of technical sophistication, particularly for its plodding early pace.

Publishers Weekly. Review of The Trail to Buddha’s Mirror, by Don Winslow. 239, no. 6 (January 27, 1992): 91. A highly favorable review, demonstrating that Winslow learned from his mistakes to produce a tale of a routine missing-persons case—a brilliant scientist has fallen in love with a beautiful Chinese woman—that turns into a complicated morass on an international scale. Called a “superb mystery,” loaded with vivid details.

Publishers Weekly. Review of Way Down on the High Lonely, by Don Winslow. 240, no. 40 (October 4, 1993): 67. A starred review showing Winslow’s progress as a storyteller in a novel dealing with Neal Carey’s efforts to recover a two-year-old boy snatched by his divorced father, a member of a white supremacist group who has fled into the wilds of Nevada. The reviewer especially notes the author’s skillful blend of action, well-drawn characters, wry humor, and sharp prose.

Winslow, Don. Don Winslow’s Official Website. The author’s Web site, containing a brief biography; summaries and cover shots of Winslow’s most recent books; news of signings, appearances, and other events; links, and contact information.