Monday, August 1, 2011

Quick Read: "Savages" by Don Winslow

Quick Read: Savages by Don Winslow, 2010, 9781439183366.

Good. Another look by Winslow at the Mexican cartel wars.

Chon and Ben grew up together as beach volleyball partners. Chon joined the Navy and the SEALs. Ben went to college and became a botanist. Ben decides to grow marijuana for a living. Chon imports some special seeds from Afghanistan and they start a hugely successful hydroponic growing business. Chon is a stone killer. Ben burns his drug profits by traveling the third world and doing good deeds. Their best pal is Ophelia, 'O', a rich, Orange County, sex-fiend who is fuck buddy to them both.

The Baja Cartel demands that Chon and Ben sell exclusively to them. The Bajas make this demand by beheading seven of Chon and Ben's people. Chon and Ben say 'fuck you, we wanted out of the business anyway'. Baja retaliates by kidnapping Ophelia and upping the demands: Chon and Ben work for them for three years while O remains hostage, or O gets gang-raped and decapitated with a chainsaw.

Chon and Ben only do what they can. They agree. But, they also negotiate a buy-out clause, $20 million. Things progress. C&B don't have the dough. They get info on Baja stash houses and start robbing the Bajas. The Bajas try to find out who the robbers are. More things happen. C&B worry for O. Things end unhappily.

1. Ben thinks the cartels are savages, he cannot understand or cope. Chon is used to savage behavior after fighting AQ in Afghanistan and scumbags in Iraq. Chon knows the only way to deal with savages is savagely. The wealthy Mexicans think of themselves as refined Europeans and the Americans are savages.
2. Written in short, choppy sentences and sections. Sort of Ellroy like but without as many characters and the labrythian Ellroy plotting.
3. Written with plenty of slang - thankfully Winslow provides translation - with a humorous or laid back slant. As though told by a C&B customer who has been busily using.
4. Explanation of marijuana and the different variations. News to me but I'll forget most of it.
5. Many emotionless killers. Wait, not emotionless. Pitiless. Ruthless. Other synonyms. 'Black eyed killers with no soul.'
6. Keep the crime to certain gang areas and Mexico. Don't hurt any white people and don't damage the money stream.
7. I was able to read through a lot of this on the way to Hutchinson and back for our visit to the Cosmosphere and Space Center.

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