The Dawn Patrol

[Amazon Link]

If you have a hankering to read a crime novel where the hero is a San Diego surfing private investigator, you almost certainly can't do better than this one.

Aforesaid hero is Boone Daniels (really), a very laid back surfer who does his PI gig only when it's necessary to shore up his finances. His true devotion is to the Dawn Patrol, a group of five that paddle out in the early AM off Pacific Beach in San Diego to surf, banter, then surf some more.

But the day job intrudes: Boone is employed by an insurance company that's on the hook for a burned-down warehouse owned by San Diego sleazebag Dan Silver. The insurance company believes (correctly) that Silver torched the warehouse himself, and is relying on one of Silver's employees, an ecdysiast named Tammy, to testify to that fact in an upcoming trial. But now Tammy's gone missing, and that's where Boone comes in, teamed with a beautiful claims investigator named Petra.

Problem is that we've just seen (on page 5) a young lady tossed to her death off a motel balcony. Oh oh. Also somehow involved are a group of five girls living in the strawberry fields just outside the city.

Winslow writes with punch: everything's in present tense, lots of one-sentence paragraphs. Not only does he do action and suspense well, he tosses in a lot of colorful characters; the other members of the Dawn Patrol are carefully drawn, and they have major roles to play in the plot. Scenic San Diego, its history and geography, is lovingly described.

It might make a pretty good movie.

Last Modified 2012-10-02 2:19 PM EDT