The Force by Don Winslow

How do lines get crossed? One step at a time.

The definitive cop novel has now been written. The Force by Don Winslow is it. Winslow has always had a knack for no holds barred, in your face narratives that don’t pull any punches. That style has reached new heights with The Force.

Denny Malone is a hero cop. Malone rules Manhattan North. He and his squad are “Da Force” and they will do whatever it takes to keep order in his part of the city. That might mean bending some laws. Bending leads to breaking and soon it becomes harder to spot the differences between you and what you are fighting. When the Feds catch Malone breaking the law, Malone’s options start to shrink until they completely disappear.

Winslow does a masterful job of bringing you inside the mind of a cop. What it is to walk in their shoes, to see what they see and to know what they know. What it’s like to have people calling you a hero one day and calling for your head the next. He gives you a front row view of a system that’s corrupt from the street all the way to the top of city hall and beyond. He shows you how each indiscretion is justified, until morals are compromised and lines have been crossed that can’t be uncrossed. Winslow shows you how a corrupt system that seems rigged against justice leads to unorthodox methods in the name of justice.

The narrative structure here is brilliant. The story starts with Malone in federal custody. It then jumps back in time with the long buildup to how he wound up there. Along the way Winslow takes you through twists and turns and manages to surprise you at every step. He conveys mood and attitude through sentences and language that alternately massage you and punch you in the face. The story grabs you on page one and holds onto you until the last, gut-wrenching sentence. They don’t get any better than this. Highly recommended.

I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.

Description: Our ends know our beginnings, but the reverse isn’t true . . .
All Denny Malone wants is to be a good cop.
He is “the King of Manhattan North,” a, highly decorated NYPD detective sergeant and the real leader of “Da Force.” Malone and his crew are the smartest, the toughest, the quickest, the bravest, and the baddest, an elite special unit given unrestricted authority to wage war on gangs, drugs and guns. Every day and every night for the eighteen years he’s spent on the Job, Malone has served on the front lines, witnessing the hurt, the dead, the victims, the perps. He’s done whatever it takes to serve and protect in a city built by ambition and corruption, where no one is clean—including Malone himself.

What only a few know is that Denny Malone is dirty: he and his partners have stolen millions of dollars in drugs and cash in the wake of the biggest heroin bust in the city’s history. Now Malone is caught in a trap and being squeezed by the Feds, and he must walk the thin line between betraying his brothers and partners, the Job, his family, and the woman he loves, trying to survive, body and soul, while the city teeters on the brink of a racial conflagration that could destroy them all.

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