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Savages: A Novel

A book by Don Winslow

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"You can't make peace with savages."

  • Jul 12, 2010
  • by
Winslow has been compared to Raymond Chandler and Elmore Leonard for his hip novels of Southern California and the sly wit of his writing. But anyone who has read The Power of the Dog will understand this author's grasp of politics and culture, appropriately cynical about the nature of bureaucracy, the war on drugs and the folly and waste of it all, as played out in his two protagonists in Savages: Ben and Chonny. Ever the idealist, Ben chooses to walk away when the Baja Cartel makes a move on their hugely lucrative marijuana business. But like the flip side of a coin, Chon is more pragmatic, understanding that acquiescence will be mistaken for weakness. The pair is at an impasse until the involvement of their friend, Ophelia, makes it impossible to embrace the way of the temperate.

In his inimitable staccato style, Winslow blows through the consciousness of the three friends and the simian brain of the Baja Cartel, who can only be met with similar force. The result, while often hilarious, is ultimately tragic, when the way to power is only through savage methods. Winslow makes pithy and poignant comments on our So Cal version of civilization, with an unwavering eye and an acerbic sense of justice. It's always a pleasure to read a local author's perceptions of the all-too-familiar places in my city and neighboring jurisdictions, as familiar to me as Ben and Chon's lives are unfamiliar (but accessible thanks to Winslow). That is Winslow's gift: like it or not, you gain entry into his world, beautiful, sleek, troubled and decidedly more often than not, savage. Luan Gaines/2010.

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More Savages: A Novel reviews
review by . January 02, 2011
Partners Chon and Ben have a profitable marijuana operation in the Laguna Beach area.  They are informed that the Mexican Baja Cartel intends to take over the marijuana operation in the area. However, they want the partners to stay in business and sell their product to the cartel. Then, the cartel will make most of the profit.      When representatives of the cartel make their offer, they are turned down. The Mexican drug leader tells them that "no" is unacceptable …
review by . August 21, 2010
     OK, it's great. Yes, candy. Kind of like the first chocolate covered cherry with cognac you ever had. Sex, drugs, rock&roll ultra violence. The Mexican drug wars ignite in Laguna. No heroes - bad bad guys and good bad guys, but the good bad guys (and truly terrific bad girl) are so nice, lovable even, even altruistic if not a little naive, that I couldn't help but want them as friends. The bad guys are the Baja Cartel, dripping in blood and deceit. Bad, bad guys. …
review by . July 12, 2010
Is there such a thing as intellectually crude humor? There must be because how else could you explain this book? I read this book based on a tip from some friends who live in So-Cal. And you really can't go wrong with book recommends from buddies who live in So-Cal. Up till this book I hadn't read anything by Mr. Winslow so I went in with my mind wide open. Which was a good idea because I needed all the cerebral space for every little bit of everything this book had to offer.      The …
About the reviewer
Luan Gaines ()
Ranked #109
An artist/writer, I have traveled the world, walked on the moon and learned the complicated language of humanity, the enormity of the universe... all through the written word. My first passport was a … more
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About this book


Spare, clipped expository prose and hip, spot-on dialogue propel this visceral crime novel from Winslow (The Dawn Patrol). The future is looking good for Laguna Beach, Calif., marijuana growers Ben and Chon, until they receive an ominous e-mail from the Baja Cartel. Attached is a photograph showing the decapitated bodies of other independent drug dealers. The message is clear: sell your product through us or else. Ben and Chon try to resist, but matters escalate after cartel thugs abduct Ophelia, the guys' beautiful young playmate and accomplice, and hold her for a cool million ransom. Meanwhile, Elena "La Reina" Sanchez Lauter, the leader of the Baja Cartel, must deal with rival drug gangs and potential overthrow from within. Ben and Chon propose a trade that Elena can't refuse, setting the stage for the violent and utterly satisfying ending. Winslow's encyclopedic knowledge of the border drug trade lends authenticity.
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ISBN-10: 1439183368
ISBN-13: 978-1439183366
Author: Don Winslow
Genre: Fiction, Humorous Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
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