All Denny Malone wants is to be a good cop. He is “the King of Manhattan North,” a highly decorated NYPD detective sergeant and the real leader of “Da Force.” Malone and his crew are the smartest, the toughest, the quickest, the bravest, and the baddest, an elite special unit given carte blanche to fight gangs, drugs, and guns. Every day and every night for the eighteen years he’s spent on the Job, Malone has served on the front lines, witnessing the hurt, the dead, the victims, the perps. He’s done whatever it takes to serve and protect in a city built by ambition and corruption, where no one is clean—including Malone himself. What only a few know is that Denny Malone is dirty: he and his partners have stolen millions of dollars in drugs and cash in the wake of the biggest heroin bust in the city’s history. Now Malone is caught in a trap and being squeezed by the Feds, and he must walk the thin line between betraying his brothers and partners, the Job, his family, and the woman he loves, trying to survive, body and soul, while the city teeters on the brink of a racial conflagration that could destroy them all.
I was so excited to read this book that I bought it as soon as Renee told me that I would surely love it as much as she did. And despite its length (+500 pages), I read it in less than two days. I was completely addicted. I think I mentioned before that I’ve had a couple of Don Winslow books for a while but I hadn’t got to them yet. But I knew I would like his books given my love for Narcos and Dennis Lehane (and well, Stephen King said this was like The Godfather but with cops), so I had a feeling I would enjoy The Force and I was completely right.
I had just finished watching NBC’s Shades of Blue and this book was the perfect follow-up, as the theme was exactly the same: corrupt police officers in NYC! But what I find most interesting about this kind of stories is that not everything is black or white. I do love some shades of gray (not Christian’s, eww!). However, I must say Jennifer Lopez’s Harlee Santos -and even Wozniak!- were more likable than Denny Malone.
Denny Malone is the absolute protagonist here, and, let’s face it, he’s not a really good guy. It’s not only that he steals money and drugs, but the way he behaves. He’s kind of sexist, he’s always violent and he thinks he’s so smart and powerful (and he might be, but come on!). Nevertheless, he was a great character to read about, precisely because of his flaws. Despite the bad stuff, he clearly cares about his family and friends, so of course there’s some good in him. The same can be said about his team: Russo and Montague. Levin was the nicest one, though. They were all cops and they were corrupt, but they were fascinating.
Don Winslow’s writing was just perfect, in my opinion. Full of dialogue, the pace is never slow and there’s no time to get bored: there’s always something going on. The aspect that I enjoyed the most about The Force was Malone’s descent into desperation. He’s hopeless and he knows it. What will he do? Will he betray his partners? Will he give up everything and go to jail? Will his relationships survive? The final act was gripping and unforgettable and I loved the ending so much that I can’t wait to watch what it will surely become one of my favorite movies. This book is perfect film material.
If you’re a fan of gritty thrillers, stories about corruption, epic police sagas and the film The Departed, you will surely enjoy this one. IT’S SO GOOD.