A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Force by Don Winslow- Feature and Review


The acclaimed, award-winning, bestselling author of The Cartel—voted one of the Best Books of the Year by more than sixty publications, including the New York Times—makes his William Morrow debut with a cinematic epic as explosive, powerful, and unforgettable as Mystic River and The Wire.

Our ends know our beginnings, but the reverse isn’t true . . .

All Denny Malone wants is to be a good cop.

He is "the King of Manhattan North," a highly decorated NYPD detective sergeant and the real leader of "Da Force." Malone and his crew are the smartest, the toughest, the quickest, the bravest, and the Baddest, an elite special unit given carte blanche to fight gangs, drugs, and guns. Every day and every night for the eighteen years he’s spent on the Job, Malone has served on the front lines, witnessing the hurt, the dead, the victims, the perps. He’s done whatever it takes to serve and protect in a city built by ambition and corruption, where no one is clean—including Malone himself.

What only a few know is that Denny Malone is dirty: he and his partners have stolen millions of dollars in drugs and cash in the wake of the biggest heroin bust in the city’s history. Now Malone is caught in a trap and being squeezed by the Feds, and he must walk the thin line between betraying his brothers and partners, the Job, his family, and the woman he loves, trying to survive, body and soul, while the city teeters on the brink of a racial conflagration that could destroy them all.

This is the great cop novel of our time and a book only Don Winslow could write: a haunting story of greed and violence, inequality and race, crime and injustice, retribution and redemption that reveals the seemingly insurmountable tensions between the police and the diverse citizens they serve. A searing portrait of a city on the edge and of a courageous, heroic, and deeply flawed man who stands at the edge of its abyss, The Force is a masterpiece of urban realism, full of shocking and surprising twists, leavened by flashes of dark humor, a morally complex and utterly riveting dissection of modern American society and the controversial issues confronting us today.



The ForceThe Force by Don Winslow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Force by Don Winslow is a 2017 William Morrow publication.

Denny Malone- a cop- NYPD, the member of an elite group. He’s seen it all in his eighteen years of service. But his badge is tarnished, and his dirty deeds are coming home to roost. Stealing drugs and skimming copious amounts of cash from a major drug bust, Denny is now under the watchful eye of the Feds, while the racial atmosphere in his city is threatening to boil over at any moment. To complicate matters further, Denny is separated from his wife and kids, and is involved in an interracial relationship with a nurse who happens to have a problem with heroin.

While the feds may have him against the wall, Denny knows things no one would want the public to hear about. Initially, he thinks this might be his ace in the hole. Denny swears to keep his fellow ‘brothers’ safe, that he’s not just covering his own butt. But, as the tensions on the street escalate, the noose is pulled tighter around Denny’s neck and the reader will get a brutal, shocking, up close and personal look at ‘da force’ and life on the streets of New York City.

This is my first book by Don Winslow. I’ve heard awesome things about his books, but never got around to reading one of them. When this book was published in 2017, I grabbed a copy without hesitation, but due to the bulk of the book and the impression that this was a story I wanted to take slow, one that might require my undivided attention and a sharper focus, I kept passing it over, and before long it had slipped so far down the TBR pile it fell off my radar. But, one day a few months back, someone on Twitter ‘liked’ one the author’s tweets, which reminded me of this book, so I made a mental note to look it up again. Strange way to be reminded of a book, I guess, but I am thankful for the prompt, all the same.

This book is mind boggling. It is one of the best crime novels of its kind I’ve read in years. It is packed with layers of grit, drama, tension and suspense, and is utterly engrossing.

However, it is not an easy read in many ways. It is intensely somber and bleak. The prose is tight and poetic even, in its way, but, the language, authentic, though it may be, is rough, very rough.

The story is also very testosterone laden, but again, I think it is more realistic and accurate than the average person wants to believe. In fact, everything in this book is that way, to the point where it became a bit depressing. If only half of this story is based on real life scenarios, and sadly, I think the portrayal of the system was probably spot on, then one might even come away with a feeling of hopelessness.

But this is not exactly new territory, although it is a fresher and more original spin on the classic cop drama. This book did put me in mind of some older books, television programs, and movies from days past that portrayed the realities of big city crime and justice, and the inner workings of the police departments, where corruption, payoffs and greed were standard operating procedure.

Denny’s deep character analysis is also a study of the city and the force and captures the taut atmosphere at on the streets. Do you hate to love Denny, or do you love to hate him? In some ways Denny reminded me of a member of the mob, with his fingers in every pie, wheeling and dealing working the system, compromising, living large and on the edge, instead of a member of law enforcement. The lines were that blurred.

But, at the end of the day, Denny’s frame of mind, his thought process, is at the very center of the entire book, as is the mindset of the city, where the fight isn’t just on the streets, it’s in the twisted system, and is more about politics than keeping citizens safe.

Overall, this novel is a very convincing crime drama, a story one can sink their teeth into, with a lot to chew on.





Don Winslow (b. 1953) is the New York Times bestselling author of thirteen crime and mystery novels as well as short stories and film screenplays. A Cool Breeze on the Underground, Winslow's debut and the first novel in his popular Neal Carey series, was nominated for an Edgar Award. Before becoming a full -time writer, Winslow worked as a private detective in New York and California.

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