The Gentlemen's Hour

[Amazon Link]

I read Don Winslow's Savages, a tale of the California drug trade, back in 2012; I didn't care for it all that much, and went back to read his older stuff, the "Neal Carey" series, after that. But now I'm all caught up with Carey, so returning to more recent stuff…

Whew! The Gentlmen's Hour shows Winslow is as strong as ever. He returns here to the characters of The Dawn Patrol, (which I liked a lot) a diverse group held together mainly by their love of surfing off Pacific Beach, a neighborhood of San Diego. The main character is Boone Daniels, an ex-cop private investigator. On the strength of the events in the previous book, Boone is hired by the defense team of one Corey Blasingame, who's been charged with the murder of a beloved local surfing icon. This is against Boone's better judgment: the kid has confessed, the kid is also a total slimeball, witnesses back up the prosecution's case. And worst of all: one of the detectives that investigated the death is Boone's Dawn Patrol comrade, Johnny Banzai (aka John Kodani); any exculpatory evidence Boone digs up would reflect poorly on his friend.

And as a seemingly unrelated matter: the group of older surfers that show up after the Dawn Patrol includes Dan Nichols, a rich entrepreneur. He hires Boone (again, against Boone's better judgment) to check if his wife has been sleeping around. A more conventional, and also sleazier, thing for a PI to do.

Boone starts unravelling the twisted threads of the nasty plot. Of course putting his life, friendships, and career at risk. As in the previous book, colorful characters abound, the San Diego area is described with a combination of world-weary cynicism and deep infatuation, and it really keep you turning the page. (On my new Kindle: tapping the screen.)

Advice: keep track of the various flavors of bad guys, because things will get confusing otherwise at the big climax.

TiMER

[3.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

This was lingering in our Netflix DVD queue for a long time; we were out of DVDs, so we queued up the streaming version, and voilà.

It's an interesting example of a science-fiction premise done right: imagine one new thing, in this case a fantastic invention, and see where that takes you in an otherwise normal situation. The invention in this case is the "Timer", a gadget that implants on your wrist. If your one true love also has a Timer, your devices will synchronize and begin counting down to the day you will actually meet. And on that day, it will start counting down the hours, minutes, and seconds until you lock eyes. At that point a tasteful chime goes off, and you wander off into a lifetime of romantic bliss.

There are a few other rules: if your true love doesn't have a Timer, yours will stay blank until they get one. And you can have your Timer removed, but that's very rare. If you get it removed, however, you can't get it back.

Interweave this sci-fi premise onto a standard romantic comedy, and you have TiMER.

The movie shows how a Timer-infested world impacts the life of heroine Oona. She has a blank Timer, which means her true love hasn't gotten one yet. So her dating life is restricted to Timerless dudes. If things start getting serious, she asks them to get a Timer implanted… and so far, that's resulted in no synchronization, and so … it's welcome to Dumpsville, baby, population: you. We also get glimpses of how the Timer (or lack thereof) has changed the lives of people in Oona's orbit, mostly her family.

Mrs. Salad didn't care for the ending, but it was inevitable.