The Force: A Novel - Don Winslow
I’m late to the party with this one & there are already a ton of reviews to help you decide whether or not to add it to your TBR pile. I doubt I have anything new to add so I’ll just toss out a few thoughts.

First of all, this came with an incredible amount of buzz…always dangerous. But I picked it up after hearing it compared to Ken Bruen, an author I’ve long admired.

I’ll be honest…by the time I reached about 150 pages it was firmly in 3 star territory. Denny Malone is the MC & we spend a massive amount of time in his head. Every character & location is seen through his personal lens & it’s a somewhat distorted view. As he tours his “kingdom” we get a full history lesson on every colleague, criminal, building & intersection that comes to mind as he reminisces about his impressive career. I confess I found this part a tough slog as it’s all Denny all the time & I can’t say I particularly enjoyed his company.

The story picked up at about the 200 page mark as the plot finally kicked in & things got interesting. Other characters began to get more air time & they’re a compelling crew from all walks. Very few of them come off well & Machiavelli himself wouldn’t stand a chance. The level of corruption on all sides is breathtaking & there’s no question of it ending well, just who will be left standing. 

Winslow’s knowledge of the history of New York’s crime, cops, politicians & scandals is encyclopedic. I can’t begin to imagine the hours of research & the whole thing reads like a dark, violent love letter to the city.

Perhaps that is where the comparisons to Bruen came from. His books are also bleak, gritty cop tales. But that’s where any similarity ends. His MC Jack Taylor is far from angelic but is honest with himself about who he is, unlike Malone who shies away from examining himself (and his motives) too closely. Instead he convinces himself he’s a man of the people & doing everything for the sake of the city he loves. Make no mistake…Denny is all about Denny. Taylor’s philosophical musings are full of self deprecating black humour & combined with Bruen’s elegiac prose, the result is a character you become invested in. For me, that makes all the difference. So while I can stand back & admire this book as a whole, ultimately I just couldn’t muster enough interest in Denny’s fate & it was other characters that kept me reading.

Renewed pace & intricate plotting in the second half bumped it up to 4 stars. But as usual, it’s all about personal taste & there are many glowing reviews on here that may give you a better idea of what to expect.