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Isle of Joy
on 18 February 2016
Isle of Joy by Don Winslow
Walter Withers has given the best years of his life to the CIA, setting honey-traps abroad and reeling in the victims of his plots. Now he has returned to Manhatten, and is working as a private investigator. Withers is assigned to bodyguard Senator Keneally’s girlfriend – a simple enough job. But next morning she’s dead – and Withers is the prime suspect.
Set in the late fifties, this novel has a distinct flavour of the Kennedy family’s history, including young presidential hopeful Joe Keneally. To clear his name Withers must take on his old masters from the CIA, as well as J Edgar Hoover’s FBI. Withers runs the risk of falling into a rapidly closing trap, but with the surprising help of a Mafia member and some unofficial help from a some young toughs who work in his building, he plans to slip through the noose lying in wait.
There are interesting sidelines in this novel, including the background of his girlfriend, a night-club singer called Anne, and a poet/writer, who stands in for a certain ‘beat’ writer by the name of Jack Kerouac. I did wonder why we had to have replace the Kennedy’s with the Kenneally’s. But the story is familiar, down to the beautiful blonde actress who comes to a nasty end.
This isn’t my favourite Winslow novel, but it’s a good story and the New York flavour adds a lot of realistic action. For an even better read in the same vein, see his extraordinary and brutal novel: The Power of the Dog. It is a breathtaking book, but it’s not for those disturbed by extreme violence.