San Diego PI and incurable surf bum Boone Daniels returns in The Gentlemen’s Hour, Don Winslow’s sequel to The Dawn Patrol. This time out we find our hero taking on a case that pisses off his friends and the surfing community as a whole, said case being the murder of surfing legend Kelly Kuhio. Everyone west of the I-5 wants the young punk who beat the kindly surf buddha to death to fucking fry but good, but when Boone looks into the circumstances of the seemingly black-and-white case when he’s hired by the kid’s defense lawyer, he starts seeing an alarming amount of gray.
With his short chapters and hyper-cool prose, Winslow makes the traditional private detective story go down smooth while his sharply drawn characters and burning love for San Dog gives you a pleasant burn. (Jesus Humbert Christ – the cliche-train has gone express!) But when I say that this is a traditional PI story, I mean like “turkey is the main entree at Thanksgiving dinner” traditional, with Boone taking on two seemingly different cases that inevitably are linked – all that kinda stuff.
But when the pace is this quick, the writing line-by-line this fun, the characters this loveable, and the genre tropes handled this professionally, the lack of invention in the crime plot department is a minor complaint. This is a (you’ve been expecting it – don’t lie) “beach read” in the best sense of the term, not a mind-blowing crime “event” like Winslow’s The Power of the Dog or Savages. The Gentlemen’s Hour features some “this shit goes all the way to the mayor’s office” type plotting for sure, but that ain’t a bad thing when it’s done this well.