cover image The Death and Life of Bobby Z

The Death and Life of Bobby Z

Don Winslow. Alfred A. Knopf, $22 (259pp) ISBN 978-0-679-45429-8

Thrown out of the Marine Corps--despite heroics in the Gulf War--for a lack of ""impulse control,"" locked up first for burglary and then for an unwitting armed robbery, three-time loser Tim Kearney is in big trouble in the big house. He's killed a Hell's Angel named Stinkdog with a sharpened license plate in preemptive self-defense. To sidestep the wrath of the Angels, Tim jumps at an only slightly less dangerous proposal from the FBI. They want him to impersonate recently deceased, legendary drug smuggler Bobby Z, so they can trade him for a captured agent. Of course the deal goes sour, and soon Tim has a whole spectrum of nasty enemies out to finish him off. To survive he must grow into his new role, donning all the legendary powers of Bobby Z and a few new ones of his own. Winslow's swift, sardonic narrative brims with cinematic possibilities as Tim and a few deftly etched pals with hearts as pure as his (including a game and clever six-year-old boy) careen from desert to beach to the San Diego zoo in a blur of explosive action. With a keen ear for punk criminal patois, a generous dose of irony and a plethora of memorable bad guys, Winslow, in the best Elmore Leonard tradition, pilots this engaging Southern California thriller from one cliff-hanger to the next. At the same time, this author of the Neal Carey mysteries (While Drowning in the Desert, 1996) steers his writing and his career to a whole new level. 100,000 first printing; major ad/promo; film rights to Warner Brothers; simultaneous Random House audio; author tour. (May)