The Force by Don Winslow

The Blurb On The Back:

Good cop or bad cop? We’re all corrupt …

Everyone can be bought. At the right price …

Detective sergeant Denny Malone leads an elite unit to fight gangs, drugs and guns in New York. For eighteen years he’s been on the front lines, doing whatever it takes to survive in a city built by ambition and corruption, where no one is clean.

What only a few know is that Denny Malone himself is dirty: he and his partners have stolen millions of dollars in drugs and cash. Now he’s caught in a trap and being squeezed by the Feds, and he must walk a thin line of betrayal, while the city teeters on the brink of a racial conflagration that could destroy them all. 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Sergeant Denny Malone is a detective on the Manhattan North Special Task Force (known as Da Force) tasked with taking on the narcotics, the guns and the gang warfare to keep people safe. But he and his team Russo (a friend since childhood) and Montague (an African American with a cigar permanently chomped between his lips) aren’t above taking some of the drugs and money for themselves or doing deals with the Mob and the gang leaders when it suits them.

When Denny and his partners execute a drug lord and stole $5 million’s worth of heroin, he figures that all they have to do wait for the heat to die down and then sell on the drugs for a big pay day. He hadn’t counted on getting caught in an FBI sting that sees an ambitious DA put the squeeze on him to give up all of the corrupt lawyers, judges and police officers in his area. Denny doesn’t want to be a rat but as New York waits to hear on a grand jury’s verdict following the death of a young black man shot by a cop the city becomes a tinder box of racial politics and violence that’s just teetering on the brink of all out anarchy …

Don Winslow’s police thriller is a gripping tale of corruption, politics, racial violence and the struggle to stay clean in a dirty city and although there’s nothing new in the storyline, it has a wonderful narrative voice and told with a real sense of place which had me gripped from beginning to end and is only let down by one double deal too many at the end.

The central character of Denny is a brilliantly drawn flawed hero, made corrupt by the system he works in as much as by his own weakness. I completely believed in his struggle to justify his actions and how he’s ground down into betrayal and the impact that has on his own sense of honour and the way he describes the battles between the Police Commissioner and Mayor had me completely gripped. The deals and double deals are sharply drawn except for the final one, which didn’t ring true in an age of social media and exists purely for Denny’s speech to power. That said, I was completely hooked by the book from beginning to end and will check out Winslow’s other work.

THE FORCE was released in the United Kingdom on 22nd June 2017. Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the ARC of this book.

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