See “flatter than.”
Like the ocean this August morning in Pacific Beach, California.
As the Dawn Patrol gives way to the Gentlemen’s Hour.”
That, folks, is Chapter 1 of The Gentlemen’s Hour. Catchy, huh? Chapter 2 is maybe three times as long, also made up of short, declarative sentences, mulling over the fundamental qualities of air and earth. Chapter 3 finally introduces us to a few human beings, who are parked on surf boards on the surface of the Pacific Ocean, complaining about the lack of surf. It’s a stylish opening for what turns out to be a fundamentally conventional murder mystery.
For someone who reads as many of these things as I do, part of the pleasure is setting and character, since the parameters of the genre are so strict. In this case, the detective character is Boone Daniels, a former surf champion and current private investigator. The disorder in idyllic Pacific Beach is bi-partite: Boone’s buddy Don Nichols thinks his wife is cheating on him. And surf god Kelly Kuhio has just been killed by a rich punk named Corey Blasingame.
All the usual elements are here: the sidekicks (a surfing band of brothers known as the Dawn Patrol), the love interest (sexy British lawyer), the red herrings. Don Winslow eventually has to rid himself of his oblique style in order to deliver the plot. The social observation is unusually acute and the characters’ moral dilemmas are completely legitimate. But the pace was a little bit slower than I wanted, and the outcome, despite several plot twists, more predictable. It will surprise no one who’s spent any time in Southern California that real estate development is at the root of the evil.