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Don Winslow is an American award-winning, New York Times and International bestselling author of mystery and thriller books.

Raised in a tiny town in Rhode Island, he attended the University of Nebraska where he earned a degree in African Studies.

While in college, Winslow traveled to southern Africa, something that sparked his love for the continent.

He also traveled to California, Idaho and Montana before moving to New York City to become a writer.

Winslow worked as a private investigator for a while until a film and publishing deal for his novel The Death and Life of Bobby Z (1997), enabled him to become a full-time writer.

Some of his accolades include the Raymond Chandler Award (Italy), the LA Times Book Prize, the Ian Fleming Silver Dagger (UK), The RBA Literary Prize (Spain), among others.

His novels that have been adapted into motion pictures include Savages (2010), and The Death and Life of Bobby Z (1997), with several more either in development or in production.

Winslow currently lives in his beloved California with his wife of several decades.

More about Don Winslow

Genres: Mystery, Thriller

Born: 1953

United States

Website: https://www.donwinslow.com/bio

Non Series

  • Isle of Joy (1996)
  • The Death and Life of Bobby Z (1997)
  • California Fire and Life (1999)
  • The Winter of Frankie Machine (2006)
  • The Dawn Patrol (2008)
  • The Gentlemen's Hour (2009)
  • Satori (2011)
  • The Force (2017)
  • City on Fire (2022)

Collections

  1. Broken (2020)

Neal Carey

  1. A Cool Breeze on the Underground (1991)
  2. The Trail to Buddha's Mirror (1992)
  3. Way Down on the High Lonely (1993)
  4. A Long Walk up the Water Slide (1994)
  5. While Drowning in the Desert (1996)

Non-fiction

  1. Looking for a Hero (2009)

Power of the Dog

  1. The Power of the Dog (2005)
  2. The Cartel (2015)
  3. The Border (2019)

Savages

  1. The Kings of Cool: A prequel to Savages (2012)
  2. Savages (2010)
Collections

Detailed book overview

Non Series

Isle of Joy

New York: Late 1958 Walter Withers had given the best years of his life to the CIA, setting honeytraps and reeling in the victims of his plots. But Withers has returned to his hometown for an easier, safer life as a Private Investigator.

Manhattan in the late Fifties is alive with new possibilities, new sounds and new faces, including young presidential hopeful Senator Joe Keneally. Withers is assigned to bodyguard Keneally's girlfriend at a society gathering: a simple enough job. But next morning, she's dead - and Withers is the prime suspect. 

o clear his name, Withers must take on his old masters from the CIA, as well as J. Edgar Hoover's FBI, all of them determined to set Keneally up. And Withers, expert hunter, becomes another disposable victim of the trap closing in on the Senator.

Author: Don Winslow
First Release: 1996
ISBN: 978-0099706410
Publisher: Arrow
The Death and Life of Bobby Z

When Tim Kearney, a small-time criminal, slits the throat of a Hell's Angel and draws a life sentence in a prison full of gang members, he knows he’s pretty much a dead man. That’s until the DEA makes Kearney an offer: impersonate the late, legendary dope smuggler Bobby Z so that the agency can trade him for one of their own, who was captured by a Mexican drug kingpin.

Knowing his chances of survival are a little better than in prison, Kearney accepts, and he winds up in the middle of a desert at the notorious drug lord’s lavish compound. To his surprise he meets Bobby Z's old flame, Elizabeth, and her son.

At first, it’s a short vacation by the pool, but when things turn bloody, the three of them begin the most desperate flight of their lives, with drug lords, bikers, Indians, and cops furiously chasing after them.

Whether he pulls it off, whether he can keep the kid and the girl and his life, makes this compelling novel a hilarious, fast-paced thriller about a con caught in a devil’s bargain.

The Death and Life of Bobby Z ( aka Bobby Z, aka Let's Kill Bobby Z)
Director: John Herzfeld
Cast: Paul Walker, Laurence Fishburne, Olivia Wilde, Jason Lewis, Joaquim de Almeida, J.R. Villarreal, Jason Flemyng
Author: Don Winslow
First Release: 1997
ISBN: 978-0307275349
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
California Fire and Life

When Jack Wade is called in to examine a suspicious arson claim, he follows the evidence into the crime infested inferno of the California underworld. 

Jack Wade was the rising star of the Orange County Sheriffs Department’s arson unit, but a minor scandal cost him everything, except his encyclopedic knowledge of fire.

Now working as an insurance claims investigator, Jack is called in to examine a suspicious claim: within hours of a disastrous blaze tearing through a wing of real estate mogul Nicky Vale’s house— causing the horrific death of his young wife—he filed a 3 million-dollar insurance claim.

The tracks of the fire tell Jack that something's wrong, and as he follows the evidence the case grows to involve the Russian mob, Vietnamese gangs, real estate scams, counterfeiting and corporate corruption.


Things get so hot and deadly that Jack might not make it out alive...that is until he decides to fight fire with fire.

Author: Don Winslow
First Release: 1999
ISBN: 978-0307279859
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
The Winter of Frankie Machine

Frankie Machianno, a hard-working entrepreneur, passionate lover, part-time surf bum, and full-time dad, is a pillar of his waterfront community—and a retired hit man. Once better known as Frankie Machine, he was a brutally efficient killer.

Now someone from his past wants him dead, and after a botched attempt on his life, Frankie sets out to find his potential killers.

However, the list of suspects is longer than the California coastline. With the mob on his heels and the cops on his tail, Frankie hatches a plan to protect his family, save his life, and escape the mob forever. Then things get really complicated.

Author: Don Winslow
First Release: 2006
ISBN: 978-0307277664
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
The Dawn Patrol

Every morning Boone Daniels catches waves with the other members of The Dawn Patrol: four men and one woman as single-minded about surfing as he is. Or nearly.

They have "real j-o-b-s"; Boone, however, works as a PI just enough to keep himself afloat. But Boone's most recent gig-investigating an insurance scam—has unexpectedly led him to a ghost from his past.

And while he may have to miss the biggest swell of his surfing career, this job is about to give him a wilder ride than anything he's ever encountered.

Filled with killer waves and a coast line to break your heart, The Dawn Patrol will leave you gasping for air.

Author: Don Winslow
First Release: 2008
ISBN: 978-0307278913
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
The Gentlemen's Hour

Former cop turned investigator Boone Daniels lives to surf. He begins each day with the Dawn Patrol, a close-knit group of surfers who have one another’s backs in and out of the water. When one of their own, a local legend, is murdered, the small world of Pacific Beach is rocked to its core.

But when Boone agrees to defend the young man accused, the outrage from the community is more than he ever anticipated, and as he digs deeper into San Diego’s murkier side, it becomes clear that not just a murder case is at stake.

Boone soon finds himself out there alone, struggling to stay afloat as the waves get rougher and rougher...and more deadly.

Author: Don Winslow
First Release: 2009
ISBN: 978-0099527565
Publisher: Arrow Books
Satori

Prepare to meet the world's most dangerous man...

It is the fall of 1951, and the Korean War is raging. Twenty-six-year-old Nicholai Hel has spent the last three years in solitary confinement at the hands of the Americans. Hel is a master of hoda korosu, or "naked kill," is fluent in seven languages, and has honed extraordinary "proximity sense"-an extra-awareness of the presence of danger. He has the skills to be the world's most fearsome assassin and now the CIA needs him.

The Americans offer Hel freedom, money, and a neutral passport in exchange for one small service: to go to Beijing and kill the Soviet Union's commissioner to China. It's almost certainly a suicide mission, but Hel accepts.

Now he must survive chaos, violence, suspicion, and betrayal while trying to achieve his ultimate goal of satori-the possibility of true understanding and harmony with the world.

Author: Don Winslow
First Release: 2011
ISBN: 978-0446561914
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
The Force

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.

Based on years of research inside the NYPD, this is the great cop novel of our time and a book only Don Winslow could write: a haunting and heartbreaking story of greed and violence, inequality and race, crime and injustice, retribution and redemption that reveals the seemingly insurmountable tensions between the police and the diverse citizens they serve.

Author: Don Winslow
First Release: 2017
ISBN: 978-0062664433
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
City on Fire

Two criminal empires together control all of New England.

Until a beautiful modern-day Helen of Troy comes between the Irish and the Italians, launching a war that will see them kill each other, destroy an alliance, and set a city on fire.

Danny Ryan yearns for a more “legit” life and a place in the sun. But as the bloody conflict stacks body on body and brother turns against brother, Danny has to rise above himself. To save the friends he loves like family and the family he has sworn to protect, he becomes a leader, a ruthless strategist, and a master of a treacherous game in which the winners live and the losers die.

From the gritty streets of Providence to the glittering screens of Hollywood to the golden casinos of Las Vegas, Danny Ryan will forge a dynasty.

Author: Don Winslow
First Release: 2022
ISBN: 978-0062851215
Publisher: HarperLuxe

Collections

Broken

No matter how you come into this world, you come out broken...

In six intense short novels connected by the themes of crime, corruption, vengeance, justice, loss, betrayal, guilt and redemption, Broken is #1 international bestseller Don Winslow at his nerve-shattering, pulse-pounding, heartbreaking best.

In Broken, he creates a world of high-level thieves and low-life crooks, obsessed cops struggling with life on and off the job, private detectives, dope dealers, bounty hunters and fugitives, the lost souls driving without headlights through the dark night on the American criminal highway.

With his trademark blend of insight, humanity, humor, action, and the highest level of literary craftsmanship, Winslow delivers a collection of tales that will become classics of crime fiction.

Author: Don Winslow
First Release: 2020
ISBN: 978-0062988898
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Neal Carey

A Cool Breeze on the Underground

Neal Carey is not your usual private eye. A graduate student at Columbia University, he grew up on the streets of New York, usually on the wrong side of the law. Then he met a PI who introduced him to the Bank, an exclusive institution with a sideline in keeping its wealthy clients happy and out of trouble. They pay Neal’s college tuition, and Neal gets an education that can’t be found in any textbook, from learning how to trail a suspect to mastering the proper way to search a room.

Now it’s payback time. The Bank wants Neal to put his skills to work in finding Allie Chase, the rebellious teenage daughter of a prominent senator. The problem is that she’s gone underground in the London punk scene. To get her back, Neal has to follow her into a violent netherworld where drugs run rampant and rage is the name of the game.  

Author: Don Winslow
First Release: 1991
ISBN: 978-1504763196
Publisher: ‎Blackstone Publishing
The Trail to Buddha's Mirror

Robert Pendleton is a chemical genius with a fertilizer worth a fortune to whoever controls the formula. Not surprisingly, the Bank, his notoriously exclusive backer, wants to keep an eye on its investment. But so does the CIA. And the Chinese government. And a few shadier organizations. So when Pendleton disappears from a conference in San Francisco, along with all of his research, Neal Carey enters the picture.

Neal knows the Bank is calling in its chips in return for paying his grad school bills. He thinks this assignment will be a no-brainer until he meets the beguiling Li Lan and touches off a deadly game of hide-and-seek that will lead him from San Francisco’s Chinatown to the lawless back streets of Hong Kong, and finally into the dark heart of China.

In a world where no one is what they seem, Neal must unravel the mystery of a beautiful woman and reach the fabled Buddha’s Mirror, a mist-shrouded lake where all secrets are revealed.

Author: Don Winslow
First Release: 1992
ISBN: 978-1504763073
Publisher: ‎Blackstone Publishing
Way Down on the High Lonely

From domestic war to barroom brawls, grad-student-turned-PI Neal Carey’s got more than studying on his plate.

Neal Carey’s three-year confinement in a Chinese monastery is finally over, but his troubles are just beginning. The elusive financial benefactors who have bought his freedom expect a return on their investment. They want him to find Cody McCall, a two-year-old boy recently abducted by his father in a bitter Hollywood custody battle, a task that will propel Neal from the glittering Hollywood hills to the remote wilds of Nevada.

To find Cody, Neal has to turn outlaw in a land of two-bit casinos and roadside cathouses to infiltrate a vicious white supremacist group spouting hatred and dealing in terror. But the deeper undercover he goes, the deadlier the game becomes. Now Neal must force a showdown with the group’s crazed leader and find Cody before the missing toddler ends up lost in a world of unspeakable evil.

Author: Don Winslow
First Release: 1993
ISBN: 978-1504762953
Publisher: ‎Blackstone Publishing
A Long Walk up the Water Slide

Neal Carey has to keep the mob, the FBI, and a major television personality from killing his newest client, but he’s tempted to do the job himself.

Sometime student and ever-reluctant detective Neal Carey would rather be finishing a dull doctoral thesis than staring down the nose of a loaded gun, but his new assignment doesn’t sound dangerous. All he has to do is pull off the ultimate makeover: turn Polly Paget, a gum-chewing, foul-mouthed, big-haired broad, into a perfect lady in time to testify in a rape case against Jack Landis, head of the Family Cable Network and America’s most beloved family man.

But Polly isn’t cooperating, and everyone (including a former FBI agent, an obsessive-compulsive hitman, the Mafia, a porn prince, and a slew of tabloid reporters) is on her trail, turning Neal’s “simple” assignment into a deadly game of duck-duck-goose.

In a hellish and hilarious escapade that takes him from the deserts of Nevada to the bright lights of Las Vegas and finally to a hair-raising climax in a shoddily built amusement park, Neal tries to escape the mob’s big guns while taking a slippery walk up the world’s biggest water slide.

Author: Don Winslow
First Release: 1994
ISBN: 978-1504763318
Publisher: ‎Blackstone Publishing
While Drowning in the Desert

Neal is assigned to escort monkeyish octogenarian Natty Silver home from Las Vegas to Palm Springs. Natty, once a burlesque top banana, has a nonstop barrage of corny jokes, an eye for an aging cocktail waitress, and a chronic disappearing act.

When Neal catches up with him, he can see why Natty doesn’t want to go home. Sole witness to a crime, he’s now the quarry of hard-faced suits, a fascist con artist, and a career-track assassin. 

And bodyguard Neal—scorching through the trackless desert at 80 miles per hour, brooding on his inner child by freezing starlight, and looking down the barrel of one gun too many—is soon dodging vultures and on the brink of a surprise watery grave.

Author: Don Winslow
First Release: 1996
ISBN: 978-0312961183
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Non-fiction

Looking for a Hero

Widely acclaimed as the Vietnam War's most highly decorated soldier, Joe Ronnie Hooper in many ways serves as a symbol for that conflict. His troubled, tempestuous life paralleled the upheavals in American society during the 1960s and 1970s, and his desperate quest to prove his manhood was uncomfortably akin to the macho image projected by three successive presidents in their "tough" policy in Southeast Asia.

Looking for a Hero extracts the real Joe Hooper from the welter of lies and myths that swirl around his story; in doing so, the book uncovers not only the complicated truth about an American hero but also the story of how Hooper's war was lost in Vietnam, not at home.

Extensive interviews with friends, fellow soldiers, and family members reveal Hooper as a complex, gifted, and disturbed man. They also expose the flaws in his most famous and treasured accomplishment: earning the Medal of Honor. In the distortions, half-truths, and outright lies that mar Hooper's medal of honor file, authors Peter Maslowski and Don Winslow find a painful reflection of the army's inability to be honest with itself and the American public, with all the dire consequences that this dishonesty ultimately entailed.

In the inextricably linked stories of Hooper and the Vietnam War, the nature of that deceit, and of America's defeat, becomes clear.

NB: Co-authored with Peter Maslowski.

Author: Don Winslow
First Release: 2009
ISBN: 978-0803224933
Publisher: University of Nebraska

Power of the Dog

The Power of the Dog

Set about ten years prior to The Cartel, this gritty novel introduces a brilliant cast of characters. Art Keller is an obsessive DEA agent. The Barrera brothers are heirs to a drug empire.

Nora Hayden is a jaded teenager who becomes a high-class hooker. Father Parada is a powerful and incorruptible Catholic priest. Callan is an Irish kid from Hell’s kitchen who grows up to be a merciless hit man. And they are all trapped in the world of the Mexican drug Federación.

From the streets of New York City to Mexico City and Tijuana to the jungles of Central America, this is the war on drugs like you’ve never seen it.

Author: Don Winslow
First Release: 2005
ISBN: 978-1400096930
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
The Cartel

It’s 2004. Adán Barrera, kingpin of El Federación, is languishing in a California federal prison. Ex-DEA agent Art Keller passes his days in a monastery, having lost everything to his thirty-year blood feud with the drug lord. Then Barrera escapes. Now, there’s a two-million-dollar bounty on Keller’s head and no one else capable of taking Barrera down.

As the carnage of the drug war reaches surreal new heights, the two men are locked in a savage struggle that will stretch from the mountains of Sinaloa to the shores of Veracruz, to the halls of power in Washington, ensnaring countless others in its wake.

Internationally bestselling author Don Winslow's The Cartel is the searing, unfiltered epic of the drug war in the twenty-first century.

Author: Don Winslow
First Release: 2015
ISBN: 978-0525436515
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
The Border

What do you do when there are no borders? When the lines you thought existed simply vanish? How do you plant your feet to make a stand when you no longer know what side you’re on?

The war has come home.

For over forty years, Art Keller has been on the front lines of America’s longest conflict: The War On Drugs. His obsession to defeat the world’s most powerful, wealthy, and lethal kingpin—the godfather of the Sinaloa Cartel, Adán Barrera—has left him bloody and scarred, cost him people he loves, even taken a piece of his soul.

Now Keller is elevated to the highest ranks of the DEA, only to find that in destroying one monster he has created thirty more that are wreaking even more chaos and suffering in his beloved Mexico. But not just there.

Barrera’s final legacy is the heroin epidemic scourging America. Throwing himself into the gap to stem the deadly flow, Keller finds himself surrounded by enemies—men that want to kill him, politicians that want to destroy him, and worse, the unimaginable—an incoming administration that’s in bed with the very drug traffickers that Keller is trying to bring down.

Art Keller is at war with not only the cartels, but with his own government. And the long fight has taught him more than he ever imagined. Now, he learns the final lesson—there are no borders.

Author: Don Winslow
First Release: 2019
ISBN: 978-0062664495
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Savages

The Kings of Cool: A prequel to Savages

Now, in this high-octane prequel to Savages, Winslow reaches back in time to tell the story of how Ben, Chon, and O became the people they are. Spanning from 1960s Southern California to the recent past, The Kings of Cool is a breathtak­ingly original saga of family in all its forms—fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, friends and lovers.

As the trio at the center of the book does battle with a cabal of drug dealers and crooked cops, they come to learn that their future is inextricably linked with their parents’ history.

A series of breakneck twists and turns puts the two generations on a collision course, culminating in a stunning showdown that will force Ben, Chon, and O to choose between their real families and their loyalty to one another.

Author: Don Winslow
First Release: 2012
ISBN: 978-1451665338
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Savages

Ben, Chon, and O are twentysomething best friends living the dream in Southern California. Together they have made a small fortune producing premium grade marijuana, a product so potent that the Mexican Baja Cartel demands a cut.

When Ben and Chon refuse to back down, the cartel kidnaps O, igniting a dizzying array of high-octane negotiations and stunning plot twists as they risk everything to free her. The result is a provocative, sexy, and darkly engrossing thrill ride, an ultracontemporary love story that will leave you breathless.

Savages
Director: Oliver Stone
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Aaron Johnson, Benicio del Toro, Salma Hayek, John Travolta
Author: Don Winslow
First Release: 2010
ISBN: 978-1439183373
Publisher: Simon & Schuster