The Force – Don Winslow

This is a brutal novel about corruption in the New York police and elsewhere in society. The central character is a renegade policeman who is, in the vernacular, bent. Detective Sergeant Denny Malone and his merry men are supposed to fight to protect the citizens of New York from gangs, drugs and guns in New York. From his perspective, he’s not bent, just oiling the wheels of justice. He seems to ignore the hoard of drugs and cash he has accumulated from his just fight.

Of course, he is not the only bad apple in the barrel. And the baddies aren’t exactly noble citizens either. Unfortunately for Malone, his time may be up, as the FBI are moving in. And unfortunately for the city, at the same time there is something of a race war being threatened, arising out of a police shooting of a black man by a white policeman in suspicious circumstances. (All too familiar.)

The story follows Malone and his crew and their misadventures. It’s violent, fast paced and tense. The city backdrop is authentic, and the characterizations are good. The plot has less surprises than you might want, but is tight and does bring all the strands together. There are moments of pure pathos, and some of dark comedy. But above it all is the dark, dark cloud of corruption.

It’s not a book I would rush to recommend unless you like your fiction dark. Bad things happen to good people. But I enjoyed it, though I hope and pray it’s truly fiction and far removed from the reality.

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