The Force has Don Winslow coming out swinging with yet another exhilarating and epic crime novel. In this tale of corruption and moral murkiness, crooked cop Denny Malone must make the toughest decision of his life: who to betray.
Early reviews of The Force have made comparisons as far-reaching as gangster films and Shakespeare in their attempts to express the deeply flawed and very human world in this novel.
It begins with Denny Malone, New York City’s esteemed hero cop, behind the same prison bars he used to throw wise guys and drug dealers into – before being caught out for being a dirty cop.
Malone spends insomniac nights scanning the underworld of New York City for drug busts and gang activity. He believes that being a police detective is the best job in the world. He’s hooked on the adrenaline (and prescription medication) and embraces his crookedness as a way of furthering his ambition to be the best.
But his sense of street justice is notorious, and he has a reputation for moralising beyond the law, rather than abiding by it. For example, when the police are on the hunt for a man who raped a young Haitian girl, the Haitians get to him first and throw the rapist nine-storeys to his death. At the crime scene Malone rules it a suicide. Not a cop on his team rumbles about it. The rapist had it coming, they figure.
Malone knows the psychology of the streets and the morally questionable cops: do someone a favour, and they owe you one. A classic power trip.
But an ambitious cop with corrupt ideals can’t straddle the edge of both universes forever, and when he is caught in a trap that threatens to expose him for good, hero cop Denny Malone must decide where his loyalty truly lies. One way or another, somebody’s getting betrayed, and the racial divide that falls into Malone’s hands threatens to tear asunder all of New York City.
The narrator is gritty and tough as nails, evocative of a classic Scorsese voiceover. And the portrayal of New York City is alive with definition, evolving as Malone penetrates deeper into drug-swept Harlem and the dishevelled, hostile streets of The Projects.
Best thing about this novel is that it takes a good hundred pages for the twist in Malone’s fate to happen, but by the time it does you’re so heavily invested in his culpable behaviour and insidious conceit that it’s impossible to resist finding out what happens next.
Besides, all Denny Malone wants is to be a good cop, right?
Stephen King has expressed his adoration for Winslow’s latest: ‘Mesmerizing, a triumph. Think The Godfather, only with cops. It’s that good.’
Don Winslow is author of nineteen acclaimed, award-winning, international bestsellers including the #1 international bestseller The Cartel, The Power of the Dog, Savages, and The Winter of Frankie Machine several of which have been made into movies or are in development. A former investigator, anti-terrorist trainer, and trial consultant, Winslow lives in Southern California.