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The Death and Life of Bobby Z
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The Death and Life of Bobby Z

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  2,503 Ratings  ·  167 Reviews
When Tim Kearney draws a license plate across the throat of a Hell's Angel, he's pretty much a dead man. It's his third crime and, according to California law, that gives him "life without the possibility of parole."  Killing a Hell's Angel also makes him a dead man on any prison yard in California. That's when the DEA makes Kearney an offer: impersonate the late, legendar ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published August 1st 2012 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published 1997)
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Paul Nelson
I listened to the audio version of The Death and the Life of Bobby Z mainly just to get a feel for the author before I tackle the considerably heftier The Power of the Dog. This book was of course turned into the film of the same name staring the late Paul Walker, so it’s always interesting to compare the two.
Currently serving a life sentence without parole, decorated Gulf War veteran Tim Kearney gets a poisoned chalice of an offer from the DEA to impersonate the notorious and now dead drug smu
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
Losers don't get dreams, losers have to settle for real life

And Tim Kearney is your quintessential loser in Don Winslow's relentless, fast-paced noir thriller.

Bobby Z is a Laguna Beach legend; surfer, drug dealer, all round cool guy and as it happens has a doppelganger in three time felon and dishonourably discharged marine Tim Kearney. DEA agents want to utilise Kearney's looks to fool a Mexican drug cartel but nothing goes to plan for anyone in the ensuing cross country flight/blood bath.

Lance Charnes
Jun 23, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of truly bad behavior
Shelves: fiction-crime
The Death and Life of Bobby Z is the book that started Don Winslow on his “drugs in Laguna” series, which isn’t actually a series as much as an attitude and state of mind that led eventually to Savages and its prequel.

Tim Kearney is a three-time loser who gets fished out of a certain-death trip back to prison by a DEA agent who gives him an offer he can’t refuse: impersonate legendary Laguna Beach dope dealer Bobby Z and let himself get traded to a Mexican drug cartel in exchange for a kidnapped
Apr 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Winslow sets up an interesting premise from the start, and stuffing the book full of crazy characters puts me in mind of what might have happened had Elmore Leonard and Christopher Moore collaborated on a SoCal story. Funny, thrilling, and wild, but with a slightly gooey center for the saps in all of us.
Craig Pittman
Jun 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun, fizzy thriller that starts off at a gallop and rarely lets up the pace. Tim Kearney, a decorated Marine with a serious impulse control problem, is serving some serious prison time when he kills a biker who'd threatened him. Now he's facing certain death inside prison from the biker's pals. So a DEA agent offers him a deal: Impersonate a legendary drug dealer whom he resembles, enabling the DEA to trade him to a Mexican drug lord in exchange for a captured DEA agent. After that he's free t ...more
Jun 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the 2nd book I've read by Don Winslow and I'm already thinking about what book of his to read next! His books are just so much fun to read, with crazy plots, wild characters, lots of action, suspense and violence, but with just enough humor to make light of the "heavy" and the "dark".
In this story, a small town criminal, Tim Kearney, gets a life sentence for slitting the throat of a Hell's Angel, while in jail. The DEA makes Tim an offer to impersonate a well known drug smuggler, known
Dec 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Big, goofy fun. Silly and violent. This book hits the ground running and never lets up. To the point of complete and utter ridiculousness, but still a stunning achievement in terms of just pace.

I'm sure if I looked at the blurbs on the back, they would include such words as: "adrenalin" or "whiplash" or "non-stop thrill ride". All of which describe the story.

Ask me in a couple of weeks, and I'll probably remember the smile on my face as I read the book more than the book itself. But I will remem
Sep 28, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was nice to see that Winslow can write without all chill-bro dudeness that worked so well in the Dawn Patrol books and went so terribly wrong in Savages. There are still some 'like, totally rad' Winslowisms, but he strikes a nice balance in Bobby Z. I really dug it, but I might just be a sucker for the touching Tim/Kit relationship. Winslow is very good at creating characters that you really care about, which helps make memorable stories out of yarns that would otherwise be too light and thro ...more
Jan 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fast-paced, action packed, funny read...with even time for some touching moments. I can see why this was made into a movie, because it sure had that movie pace. The legend of Bobby Z was a wild ride.
Leon Aldrich
Mar 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-reads
It is obvious to me Don Winslow has far too many muses flitting around his shoulders. Come one Don, leave some good stories for others to tell. You shouldn't get all the glory.
Der Drogendealer Bobby Z ist eine Legende. Und wie bei Legenden meist üblich, ist er tot. An einem banalen Herzinfarkt gestorben. Bobby Z! An einem Herzinfarkt! Das kann man nur schwer glauben.

Tim Kearney ist keine Legende. Tim Kearney ist mehr der Typ Pechvogel. Ein Kleinganove, der bei einem Einbruch schon mal über einen Rasensprenger stolpert und so der Polizei ihren Job recht leicht macht. Aber Tim Kearney lebt. Und er sieht Bobby Z zum Verwechseln ähnlich.

Die Sache ist nämlich die: DEA-Agen
May 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lifelong loser Tim Kearney looks an awful like legendary drug smuggler Bobby Z. Tim has temper, a tough luck streak, absolutely nothing going for him, and crosshairs on his head. Bobby Z is laid back, cool, and tough. The DEA needs Tim to act as an imposter for a prisoner exchange with a powerful cartel. A la Kegemusha. Chaos descends upon the exchange and Tim must flee as the cool Bobby Z.

After being mildly disappointed with Savages and blown away by Power of the Dog, I wasn't sure what to thi
Tim Niland
Aug 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads
Tim Kearney is a three time loser looking at the prospect of life in the California prison system or a shank in the back when a bright spark at the DEA realizes that he looks an awful lot like the recently deceased enigmatic drug kingpin called Bobby Z. The feds make a deal, they will release Kearney and then trade him in the guise of Bobby Z. to Mexican drug lords who don't know the truth about the real Z. If all this sounds a little too preposterous to make a good story, it gets even wilder wh ...more
Mar 12, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading Windslow's Dawn Patrol and Savages, anything that this author writes has my attention. It was written in 97 and probably was at a earlier period in his career. Definitely a fun read, but not quite up to the realism of the former two books mentioned.

The plot device is a familiar rehash of a three time loser in prison who is offered his freedom to impersonate a big time drug dealer who has supposedly died. The dialogue is filled with the right blend of racism and street sense to mak
Frederick Bingham
A book in the style of Carl Hiassen. A thriller set in southern California, San Diego, Orange County Beaches, the desert. Tim Kearney is a loser who has committed his third strike and is on the way to prison for the rest of his life. Fortuitously for him, he looks like a drug dealer (Bobby Z.) that has just died in custody. A Mexican drug lord wants to swap the look-alike for a DEA agent that he has in custody. The DEA picks out Kearney to play the part of Bobby Z and exchanges him. Unfortunatel ...more
Feb 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Action packed fast read. Oldschool action with guns blazing and bodies flying. Sex and violence packed with dreams of good life for would be loosers. Fast and furious fun! I'm glad I picked up this book.
Nov 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fast and furious fun! Elmore Leonard on Speed. This is a classic Don Winslow from 1997. Read in a day it was a terrific story with swagger and style. Highly recommended.
Vitani Days
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

I went in to this expecting it to be something else. I had only read The Force and The Power of the Dog by this author and I guess I was wanting the emotional ride of those books. This was not that at all. In fact this was actually funny in places.

I think this author is just a great story teller and his number one strength imo is his characters. He's able to build complex characters and drag you right in to their lives in a few short paragraphs. This book was no different. I couldn't h
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just found another author to look for on bookshelves! This story had a serious, threatening tone but many twists that saved the main character's bacon time and time again. What I found especially intriguing was his self-perception as a three-time loser (in criminal terms) and a total failure at life when he so obviously has skills--and exceptionally good luck. In the end (spoiler alert), the guy rides off into the sunset with every indication that things have turned out well for him.

Someone (m
John Grazide
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
That was awesome! Never read Winslow and now he moves right to the top of my to read list. This story is about a "three time loser", Tim, who is pisked by the DEA to act like the infamous drug king pin Bobby Z. He looks just like him and after some "training" the DEA hope to use him for a trade to get one of their own back from another dug king pin. But along the way Tim/Bobby find a few surprises along the way. And with that, the bodies and the enemies start to grow. Tim/Bobby must draw deep to ...more
Mars Dorian
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compared to Winslow's epic and well-researched Cartel epos, this is a fun and pulpy story along the lines of Savages and Kings of Cool.

The plot about an Ex-Marine Now Petty Criminal getting instructed by the DEA to play drug dealer legend Bobby Z is unbelievable and reads like a B-movie from the 70s or 80s. But the witty dialogue, the over-the-top characters and short chapters make this a fast and compelling read.

If you like entertaining crime on the pulpy side, read this. It's definitely not o
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Inmate Tim Kearney is a three-time loser with impulse control problems. He's great at breaking and entering, but has trouble with the exiting part. After stirring up trouble with a few Hell's Angels in gen pop, Tim gets offered a deal: either go back to prison, or masquerade as a guy named Bobby Z during a hand off with a Mexican cartel. Well aware that his options are "very dead" and "mostly likely dead", Tim chooses door number two and becomes Bobby Z- the most notorious pot dealer in Californ ...more
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have not watched TV in 9 years and find it near unbearable to watch most media. When I try I always think to myself how much I'd rather be reading. I can say I am glad I did not start with this one but it's kind of cool to see the evolution of his writing. Besides, it's like when Donald J's son, Beavis lied about meeting with a Kremlin attorney during the election and they spun it by calling it a "nothing-burger". Thankfully Winslow, like Irvine Welsh, Jacqueline Woodson, Jon Ronson, Margaret ...more
Winslow's "The Winter of Frankie Machine" is one of my very favorite crime novels, so I was very much looking forward to "The Death and Life of Bobby Z". To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. Whereas Frankie's narrative is grounded and every development feels earned, the developments in this book are often the result of happenstance and dumb luck. After a while, it all feels very convenient...and deeply unsatisfying.
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this wild ride of a tale! This is an early Don Winslow --so old that I had to track down a paperback copy online. Totally worth it. Loved the ending when everything wrapped up and made sense. "The Death and Life of Bobby Z" is violent, crazy and just plain wonderful and totally foreshadows the great stories Winslow had yet to write.

Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Creo que no es la mejor novela de Winslow, pero es una lectura muy recomendable. Utilizando un ritmo muy rápido y directo para explicar una violenta historia, es imposible aburrirse y las páginas van pasando casi sin poder parar.
Mark Westmoreland
Don Winslow writes cool. The words, the characters, the stories. They're all just cool.

I'm a huge fan of his Cartel series and I'd put Bobby Z right in there with that. This book is edge of your seat, thrill a minute plane right good.
Jorge Fernández
En realidad 2,5*. Se nota que aún le quedaban años para llegar a "El poder del perro", pero ya se empieza a intuir el actual Don Winslow.
Dan Cotter
Sep 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining story of a three-time loser being asked to impersonate another person who is dead, Bobby Z. A series of tough spots ensues for the replacement.
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Un Winslow d'Annata che non delude 1 4 Sep 05, 2014 04:13AM  
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Don Winslow was born in New York City but raised in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. At various times an actor, director, movie theater manager, safari guide and private investigator, Don has done many things on his way to being a novelist.

His first novel, A Cool Breeze On The Underground, was nominated for an Edgar, and a later book, California Fire and Life, received the Shamus Award. The Death An
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