RandomAnthony's Reviews > The Kings of Cool

The Kings of Cool by Don Winslow
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's review
Aug 14, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: crime-noir

I'm reviewing Winslow's Savages and the prequel, Kings of Cool, as one entity since I read the novels consecutively and separate reviews seem excessive. Also, both earn three stars, maybe three and a half, as I'd probably read more Winslow but I'm not pushing elderly women and jogger-stroller moms aside in a barefoot sprint toward the local library to snag more of his books.

Both novels read quick, noir, and pulp-y, mostly in a good way. Each contains about twelve thousand chapters but some contain as few as two words along with prodigious blank space. Winslow's strengths emerge around a three-headed protagonist in the form of Ben, Chon, and O's non-traditional but fiercely loyal relationship. Ben and Chon loosely represent reason vs. instinct, respectively, with O providing an id bridge/release for both. They sell high-quality pot and embrace a system in which, ideally, the trio could thrive financially without interference but, in both books, other dealers want their product and territory. The whip-quick dialogue and dizzying storylines reminded me of a Tarantino movie in which the characters jigsaw-puzzle toward the shootout climaxes. I struggled to keep people straight, especially the cops and Association dealers, as they started to sound the same, especially in Kings of Cool, and I found myself paging back through the text to make sure I understood the implications. Savages is the superior of the pair because Kings of Cool pivoted on a few dues ex machina connections that stretched the narrative perhaps a bit too far. Also, O's Kings of Cool scenes seem to exist only because Winslow couldn't leave O alone in a bedroom or whatever for the entire novel. But put those minor concerns aside and have fun. Both novels read smart and tight, and I devoured them fast because I wanted to see what happened at the end. Worth a read when you're in the mood.
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