cover image A Cool Breeze on the Underground

A Cool Breeze on the Underground

Don Winslow. St. Martin's Press, $17.95 (281pp) ISBN 978-0-312-05407-6

This ambitious but technically unsophisticated first entry in a series features street-wise New Yorker Neal Carey, a 23-year-old graduate student of 18th-century literature. Neal is directed by Friends of the Family, a discreet, private investigation agency for which he works, to find Allie Chase, the teenage, drug-addicted daughter of a U.S. senator and presidential hopeful. Allie is somewhere in England and must be returned to the States before the Democratic Convention nine weeks away. Neal finds Allie but is forced to use his cunning to bring her home; at the same time he suspects someone from the agency is trying to kill him. Winslow guides us on a tour of punk 1976 London and introduces some colorful characters. But this first novel loses much of its punch because Winslow overloads beginning chapters with his hero's personal history rather than pacing the plot with relevant details. Neal is a distant hero whose escapades seem artificially linked. (Feb.)