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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong.
Don Winslow's writing is flailing with masculinity. That could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your perspective, but the dialogue is impeccable, the humor will humor you, and the decades spanning non-linear story is terrific. Lighter than Power of the Dog. It is full of writerly indulgences though, and not in a good way. One section actually has the author...
Published on 19 Feb. 2013 by Pen Name

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Back to the well
Returning to his biggest success in years, "Savages", Don Winslow makes the trip backwards from that book to tell the story of how Ben, Chon and O got together in the first place, how they began their business, and a history of the Southern California (SoCal) drug trade starting in the 60s and which inexplicably involves all of their parents.

While I'm excited...
Published on 23 Oct. 2012 by Sam Quixote


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Back to the well, 23 Oct. 2012
By 
Sam Quixote - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Kings of Cool (Paperback)
Returning to his biggest success in years, "Savages", Don Winslow makes the trip backwards from that book to tell the story of how Ben, Chon and O got together in the first place, how they began their business, and a history of the Southern California (SoCal) drug trade starting in the 60s and which inexplicably involves all of their parents.

While I'm excited whenever Winslow puts out a new novel, I was surprised to see he had written a prequel to "Savages" rather than a sequel. What needed to be established prior to that novel? It seemed fairly contained. Having now read it, I'm again struck with the question - why? And then another thought appeared: he's run out of ideas.

"The Kings of Cool" is basically a greatest hits summary of Winslow's writing career. The drugs trade in SoCal has been covered in his far better novel "The Power of the Dog"; the surfer elements in the book have been written about in "The Gentlemen's Hour" and "The Dawn Patrol"; there are cameos by both Frank Machianno (from "The Winter of Frankie Machine") and Bobby Z (from "The Death and Life of Bobby Z"); and the protagonists are from "Savages".

Nobody writes SoCal fiction better than Winslow - he's got the drugs scene from the latter half of the 20th century down cold and he's a surfer himself so he gets that culture - but doing it again in "The Kings of Cool" feels uninspired and pointless. Why go backwards? Why not write a sequel to "Savages" and go into territory he hasn't written about before - the drugs trade and the War on Drugs in 2012? It feels cowardly and lazy to fall back on material he knows about well because he's spent years writing that same material over and over again, only to rehash (pun intended) it again in a "new" novel. Not to mention cynical as "Savages" sold well and was turned into a film - he's probably hoping that success carries over onto this book too so he can get more Hollywood dough.

Like "Savages", the writing style is frenetic and imaginative, some "chapters" are a few words long (there are almost as many pages as there are chapters) with some chapters taking the form of poetry or appearing across the page in arbitrary places; some scenes are presented as if lifted from a shooting script. It makes for a fast read and I do appreciate when an author tries - and succeeds - at combining style with story, even if you have heard the story before.

I liked "The Kings of Cool", it was enjoyable for the most part even if I thought that reading about Ben, Chon and O's parents' lives was pointless. The story is a bit weak in places, it's basically about hippies slowly becoming more involved in drug dealing - it isn't nearly as thrilling as "Savages" where there were warring cartels and a hostage plot. Plus you know Ben, Chon and O make it through any obstacles in this book because this is a prequel and they're alive and well in the next book so there's no real tension. If you want to read a book about the SoCal drugs scene in the 1960s onwards, give this a go, though I recommend Winslow's more accomplished novel "The Power of the Dog" which is about the same thing. Overall I feel "The Kings of Cool" was a bit of a wasted opportunity on Winslow's part - he could've gone forward with something new but decided to go back with something old.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strong., 19 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: The Kings of Cool (Kindle Edition)
Don Winslow's writing is flailing with masculinity. That could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your perspective, but the dialogue is impeccable, the humor will humor you, and the decades spanning non-linear story is terrific. Lighter than Power of the Dog. It is full of writerly indulgences though, and not in a good way. One section actually has the author clambering out of the fourth wall to say GOOGLE IT, to the reader. F*** off Don, do your job. Other than that though, this is a very good book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Almost unreadable, 3 April 2013
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This review is from: The Kings of Cool (Paperback)
I agree with much of what Noel says above, except that I give this book only one star. I have greatly enjoyed many of Don Winslow's books, especially "The Winter of Frankie Machine", but this one struck me as tired, predictable, unbelievable, and so boring that I can't remember a single detail to put in this review.

Oh, and I found the "poetry" layout both irritating and stupid.

Sorry, Mr Winslow, but I usually read one of your books in a couple of days. I struggled with this one for three weeks, and regretted every moment I had spent on it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loved It, 28 Sept. 2013
By 
Robin Webster "Robin" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Kings of Cool (Paperback)
I had read `The Power of the Dog' by Don Winslow a couple of years ago. I loved it but hadn't read another of his books until now. Ten pages into `The Kings of Cool', I couldn't help but wonder why I had left it so long to return to this author. This book is a recently released prequel to `Savages'. The backdrop to the book is the Californian drug scene from the nineteen-sixties to two-thousand-and-five, and follows our three main characters, Chon and Ben, (partners in the marijuana business) and their childhood friend, a Californian beauty known as O. The book also follows their dysfunctional parents through a series of flashbacks, from the hippy idealism of the sixties, to the hardnosed reality of modern day organized crime and police corruption. This story moves along at a fast pace and is action packed, as Chon and Ben's business grows and comes to the attention of an organized crime syndicate. It seems that they have bitten off more than they can chew when Ben refuses to pay protection to the above crime syndicate. The above plot may on the surface look predictable, but it isn't. The interplay between the characters is brilliantly interwoven by the author, which he uses to create a number of twists and turns and in my view an unexpected ending.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More of the same, not a bad thing., 4 Nov. 2013
By 
David Toresen (Milton Keynes, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Kings of Cool (Paperback)
Don Winslow's prequel to Savages is, essentially, more of the same. Not a bad thing - the very snappy prose, weird characters, fast-moving plot, are all welcome friends.
For me, it didn't add much to "Savages". I recognised all the characters, but I enjoyed it as a stand-alone story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars So good it hurts, 21 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: The Kings of Cool (Paperback)
The Power of the Dog is considered by many to be Don Winslow's masterpiece, and whilst I've read it (and love it) I can't help feeling that Savages and The Kings of Cool are even better. Winslow has stripped back his language here (though any comparison with James Ellroy is not really valid as it's been done in such a different way), whilst at the same time enriching it.

It's such a fast, exciting read that you sometimes have to slow yourself up just to marvel at the skill on display. Some people may find his use of spacing on the page over the top, but personally I find it exhilarating, a superb way of adding rhythm to the already tight prose. Can't recommend enough.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Like an old friend, 20 July 2013
This review is from: The Kings of Cool (Paperback)
When you first meet it smacks you in the face how intriguing they are. Not to mention fresh, fun and all absorbing - SAVAGES. You wonder how they became the fascinating souls thry are but thrn forget and enjoy them for who they are.

Suddenly one day you catch up over a few beers and they start telking you about their past - KINGS OF COOL

It sll makes sense now.

Brilliantly written yet again but not as immensely full on and funny as SAVAGES. That's not a bat review of this though. Still a great book. Quick read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars For all Savages fans, 19 May 2013
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This review is from: The Kings of Cool (Paperback)
This gives you the back story to the characters in Savages in Winslow's distinctive style. Nothing to
dislike if you are into this story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 29 July 2013
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This review is from: The Kings of Cool (Kindle Edition)
Great read, thoroughly enjoyable thriller, clever plot, will definitely be reading more by this author and recommending him to friends.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very nice, 12 May 2014
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Very nice ! It is anInteresting prequel for "savages " to read and understand the full story of the three!!
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The Kings of Cool
The Kings of Cool by Don Winslow (Paperback - 11 July 2013)
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