I found Don Winslow because his recent book, Savages, has the same title as a screenplay I wrote years ago. I was really impressed by (his) Savages, aI found Don Winslow because his recent book, Savages, has the same title as a screenplay I wrote years ago. I was really impressed by (his) Savages, and that's despite the fact that I usually don't like books written in the present tense. Savages also made me think of a line from an old Pat Benatar song: "You wrote the book with the movie in mind." Winslow goes so far as to put sections of his newer novels in screenplay format. His style these days has to be thought of as sub-minimalism, e.g. a two-word opening "chapter."
Even though he writes so sparely, he manages to create engaging characters, provide plenty of dark humor and let the reader know he's in control of his story at all times.
California Fire and LIfe features all of Winslow's strengths mentioned above. As his main character, Jack Wade, is a claims investigator for an insurance company, we also get a tutorial on arson investigations. If you like learning new things as you read, this is a plus. If you just want the author to keep the story moving, you can skim it without suffering. Winslow does a terrific job of showing how Jack, who's just trying to do an honest job of investigating a fire in which the body of a woman was found, has obstacles thrown at him from all directions. Does Jack triumph? Read the book. I'm not going to give it away.
I will, however, continue to watch for new books from Don Winslow.